Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on Friday that Islamabad would release from prison Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, an aide to Taliban supreme commander Mullah Muhammad Omar.
“In order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, the detained Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would be released tomorrow (21 September 2013),” a statement released by the Pakistan government read.
Following Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s August trip to Islamabad for peace negotiations, the Pakistan and Afghanistan governments each released several Taliban prisoners earlier this month in an effort to facilitate the reconciliation process.
“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,” wrote Afghanistan’s TOLO News.
Baradar, one of the founders of the Taliban, is a particularly significant release as he is a high-ranking, high-profile member of the group. It is likely that he will become a key member of the Taliban team conducting peace negotiations with the Afghan government.