Pakistan to free top Taliban prisoner

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 20, 2013 18:00 hrs

Islamabad, Sep 20 (IANS) Top Afghan Taliban prisoner Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is set to be released Saturday, Pakistan's foreign ministry said Friday.

The move, it said, is to facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, Pakistan's leading daily The Dawn reported citing a ministry press release.

Earlier, a top government official had said that Baradar could be released as soon as this month.

"In principle, we have agreed to release him. The timing is being discussed. It should be very soon... I think within this month," said Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs and national security.

"Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be freed into Pakistan and he will remain in the country until he decides himself to move anywhere he deems necessary to initiate the peace process," he added.

Aziz, however, added that the former Taliban second-in-command will not be handed over to Afghanistan. "Handing over the key Taliban commander to Afghanistan will sabotage the purpose behind the decision of releasing him," he said.

Baradar is one of the four men who founded the Taliban movement in 1994, and is believed to be a close aide and one of the most trusted commanders of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban. He was captured from the port city of Karachi in 2010.

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