Pakistan embassy in Kabul on Sunday confirmed the release of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban movement and Mullah Abdul Samad Sani, also called Samad Sani, a Taliban commander.
The Pakistan embassy in Kabul told TOLOnews that the step was taken following Pakistan’s commitment to facilitate the Afghan peace process.
Sources and the Taliban last week confirmed the release of Baradar who they said was now back with his family in Karachi after spending eight years in prison.
However no details have been given on exactly when Baradar and Sani were released.
The embassy said Pakistan supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and the move has been made to help with the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The Afghan government meanwhile said Islamabad has not said anything officially to Kabul in this regard.
The former deputy foreign minister, Jawed Ludin, meanwhile said during Hamid Karzai’s government, Kabul had for many years tried to free Baradar from Pakistan prison, butwere unable to do so.
Ludin said Pakistani officials have now however quickly responded to the US’s request and freed Baradar from prison.
“I know that the release of Mullah Baradar and a number of prisoners from Pakistan jails only took three weeks for Zalmay Khalilzad, while myself and Spanta tried for many years to talk with Pakistan particularly on the release of Mullah Baradar, but the talks did not happen,” said Ludin.
The US ambassador to Kabul, John. R Bass, meanwhile said the US is trying to help Afghans bring an end to the current violence.
“I would say all of our efforts around the subject of peace and reconciliation are designed to bring Afghans together. Any process where they can together determine the future of the country and bring this terrible conflict to close,” said Bass.
The new developments come amid reports that the Afghan government is not completely aware of all the activities of Khalilzad around the Afghanistan reconciliation process.
When contacted for comment, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said they had received no formal communique from Pakistan about this and could not comment.
The release of Baradar was confirmed last week by sources and the Taliban but the move was met with mixed reaction in Afghanistan.
One former Taliban member said it was a positive step in terms of facilitating continued talks between Taliban, US and Pakistan while a political affairs analyst Mohamad Mutmaen said: “Pakistan released Mullah Baradar either due to US pressure or due to a goodwill (gesture) between US and Taliban. I think this shows goodwill by the US, Taliban and other countries for peace.”
Some political figures said however the release of Baradar will prolong the war in Afghanistan, and will not help achieve peace.
“So far Pakistan is not ready to give up on its previous strategies and the release of him (Baradar) means the continuation of war. Same as the martyrdom of Gen. Raziq is the continuation of war, the release of Mullah Baradar is also the continuation of war,” said Ahmad Wali Massoud, head of Ahmad Shah Massoud Foundation.
Last week, a former member of Meshrano Jirga, Afghanistan’s Upper House of Parliament, Amanullah Azami said: “Mullah Baradar should be freed and no doubt he can play a positive role in peace because he was a prisoner of peace.”
Sources said last week that Baradar was released after the intervention of Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan’s Reconciliation, who visited Kabul twice this month to discuss peace talks with Afghan leaders.
Baradar is a co-founder of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. He was Mullah Mohammed Omar, the founding leader of the Taliban’s deputy. Omar’s death was confirmed in October 2016.
Baradar was captured in Pakistan by a team of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers in February 2010.