Central & South Asia
Taliban deputy to be 'handed over'
Afghanistan says Pakistan has agreed to transfer captured Mullah Brader to its custody.
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2010 13:52 GMT
The capture of Brader in Pakistan this month is
viewed as an intelligence coup [AFP]

Pakistan has agreed to hand over Mullah Abdul Ghani Brader, the Afghan Taliban number two captured earlier this month,  to Afghanistan, the office of Afghan president has said.

"The government of Pakistan has accepted Afghanistan's proposal for extraditing Mullah Brader and other Taliban who are in its custody and showed readiness to hand over those prisoners ... on the basis of an agreement between the two countries," a statement from Hamid Karzai's office said on Thursday.

Pakistan had no immediate comment on the Afghan government's statement, but said Mullah Brader was being investigated for crimes in Pakistan and would be tried there in the first instance.

"The request of Afghan authorities will be examined according to the law and if Mullah Brader has committed any crime inside Pakistan, he will be first tried in Pakistan," Pakistan's interior ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Significant catch

Three senior Taliban officials were captured in Pakistan this month, including Mullah Brader. His capture has been viewed as an intelligence coup and a sign of greater Pakistani co-operation in fighting Afghan fighters.

MullaH Brader
  Born in Dehrawood district of Uruzgan province, in 1968
  Number two to Taliban founder Mullah Omar
  In charge of Taliban's military operations and financial affairs
  Former defence minister for the Taliban
  Newsweek: profile
  Newsweek: interview

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Some analysts say Mullah Brader could help reconciliation between the Taliban and Karzai's government, despite his background as a fierce military commander and advocate of suicide bombings.

The Afghan announcement comes as Karzai reaches out to Taliban foot soldiers with offers of jobs, money and land in the hope they will lay down their weapons and accept his government's authority.

The Taliban, who have made a steady comeback since being ousted by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001, are under pressure in Afghanistan and increasingly so in Pakistan, where they enjoy sanctuary.

Alongside Afghan troops, US and Nato forces are pushing ahead with one of its largest assaults in Afghanistan since the start of the war, aimed at driving the Taliban from their last big stronghold in the country's most violent province to make way for Afghan authorities to take over.

On Thursday, Afghan authorities raised the Afghan flag over Marjah, the town at the centre of the offensive, to signify the handover of control to the government from Nato troops.

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