Islamabad, Oct 9: Pakistan Wednesday denied claim by the Afghan Taliban that their second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has not been freed despite official announcements about his release.
Pakistan announced Sep 21 that Mullah Baradar was released to assist in the peace process. Baradar was arrested in Karachi in February 2010.
However, Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that Mullah Baradar has not been freed and the Taliban, his family and sympathisers are concerned about his deteriorated health condition.
“With great regret, he (Mullah Baradar) is still spending days and nights locked up behind bars in worrisome health conditions which are deteriorating by the day,” the Taliban spokesperson said.
The Pakistan foreign ministry rejected the Taliban claim and insisted that Baradar has been freed.
“Pakistan has released Taliban detainees to facilitate the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Mullah Baradar has been similarly freed,” foreign ministry spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said.
“As far as we are concerned, he (Baradar) is free to meet and contact anyone to advance the cause of reconciliation.”
The Taliban statement and Pakistan’s rejection of the claim have raised uncertainties about Baradar’s whereabouts and fate.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday that Mullah Baradar still does not enjoy complete freedom, expressing the hope that Islamabad could give him opportunity to play a role for peace in Afghanistan.
Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, the Afghan president said he felt hopeful that Pakistan would allow Mullah Baradar to work for the Afghan peace process.
Karzai said Mullah Baradar was released from the detention facility, however, he knows the Taliban leader is not completely free to travel.