Pakistan has released the Afghan Taliban leader from prison, a spokesman for the Taliban announced on Thursday.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, also known as Mullah Baradar, is a co-founder of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. He was arrested by Pakistani authorities in the southern port city of Karachi in 2010.
Pakistan has released Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and he joined his family on Tuesday, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, told Anadolu Agency.
On Tuesday, local English daily The News reported that Pakistani authorities released Baradar on the solicitation of the government of Qatar, where the political office of Taliban is based.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited Islamabad last Friday and held meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Two unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials also confirmed that Mullah Baradar was freed “after high-level negotation,” AP reported.
The development came after Taliban confirmed that they had held talks with US Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
“This release has come at a time when the United States has started directly talking to Taliban, it seems the timing [for this release] is really important,” Zahin Hussain, an analyst based in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera.
Taliban set up a political office in Doha in 2013 at the request of the US to facilitate peace talks.
Baradar is one of four men, including Mullah Omar, who founded the Taliban movement in 1994. He served in several key positions when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001.
He fled to Pakistan after the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban government and was later arrested during an operation near Karachi city.
“Baradar is a highly experienced military commander and keen political strategist and played a major role in organising the insurgency in its formative years,” Kate Clark, member of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, wrote.