MoFA Confirms Release of Mullah Baradar

News - Afghanistan

At a press conference held in Kabul on Sunday, Janan Mosazai, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), confirmed the release of the Taliban's second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar from a Pakistani prison. Mr. Mosazai welcomed the move and said that he was confident it would accelerate the stalled peace process.

Mr. Mosazai said that Baradar had joined his family in Pakistan and soon the positive effect of his release on the peace process would be visible.

"At this stage, we can confirm that Mullah Baradar has been released on the request of the Afghan government. Now, he should spend some time with his family, and in the coming weeks the effect of Mullah Baradar's realease on the peace process will become visible," said Mr. Mosazai.

When asked about Baradar's whereabouts, the MoFA spokesman refrained from revealing his exact location due to security reasons.

Meanwhile, several Afghan Senators criticized the release and said that it would not help the peace process, but rather further threaten security and peace in the country.

"Pakistan is releasing the Taliban prisoners, especially the top Taliban leader because they support and equip them. The released prisoners will join the Taliban again," said Senator Lailuma Ahmadi.

The Pakistani government announced the release of Baradar from prison on Saturday. The Pakistani Foreign Affairs Ministry through a statement issued on Friday, announced that Islamabad would release Baradar - a close aide of the Taliban's supreme commander Mullah Muhammad Omar - to facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process.

Officials of the High Peace Council (HPC) welcomed the release and said that the move would have a positive impact on the peace process.

The peace process stalled back in June when the inauguration of the Taliban's political office in Doha, Qatar sparked controversy that left Kabul and Washington at odds, the office of Doha out of favor and the Taliban again resistant to negotiations. Since then, the Afghan government has increasingly shown itself willing to warm-up to and compromise with the insurgent group in order to get the peace process back on track.

The release of Taliban prisoners has been one of the main strategies Kabul has employed in recent months. The thought behind it is that the releases will cultivate good-will between the Taliban and the Afghan government as well as make certain key militant leaders who have been detained available for negotiations. Earlier in September, seven low to mid level Taliban leaders were released by the Pakistani government at Kabul's request. 

Mullah Baradar was captured in Karachi, Pakistan in 2010. Baradar is one of the four men who founded the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1994.

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