22 Sep 2013

Taliban leader freed by Pakistan

5:18 am on 22 September 2013

Afghan Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been freed from prison in Pakistan. He was captured in the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010.

Mullah Baradar is one of the four men who founded the Taliban movement in Afghanistan in 1994.

He held several senior positions in the Taliban government before its fall in 2001 and then fled to Pakistan and was the Taliban's military commander for some years.

A BBC correspondent says Mullah Baradar is seen in Afghanistan as one of the few senior Taliban figures who has shown a willingness to negotiate. The government in Kabul has been pressing for him to be free.

Afghan diplomats had suggested Pakistan was trying to hinder the reconciliation process by backing more hardline elements within the Taliban.

The Taliban opened a political office in Doha in June, but it was closed after President Hamid Karzai complained that they had flown a flag and put up a plaque as if they were a government in exile.

Since then the United States, Britain and Turkey have attempted to mediate to reopen talks.

President Karzai has appealed to the Taliban leadership to return home and negotiate openly, but the BBC reports he has not offered guarantees of security.