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Freed Taliban leader under Islamabad thumb

world Updated: Sep 27, 2013 01:50 IST
afghan taliban

A former Afghan Taliban commander, who Pakistan said had been released at the weekend, is being held under virtual house arrest by his Pakistani handlers.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured in Pakistan in 2010 and has since emerged as a figure Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States believe could help persuade his former comrades to lay down arms and talk peace after the withdrawal of most foreign troops from Afghanistan next year.

Baradar was once a close friend of reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who gave him his nom de guerre, “Baradar”, or “brother”, and he belongs to the same tribe as Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry announced last week that Baradar would be released on Saturday but as of Thursday, he was still being kept in a safe house in Karachi, Pakistani sources told Reuters.

Afghanistan, which suspects its neighbour of trying to influence its internal affairs, wants Baradar to be handed over. But Pakistan’s military, with its long history of supporting the Taliban as its proxy in Afghanistan, appears determined to control efforts to end more than 10 years of war.