Taliban in Afghanistan Claim Leader Still Detained in Pakistan

The Afghan Taliban has claimed that Pakistan has kept the former deputy leader of the group in detention despite the government announcing he was released in September. That allegation was quickly denied by officials in Pakistan.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was apparently released following years of detention. His release stirred hope amongst many Pakistani and Afghan officials that it would help to push along the peace negotiations in Afghanistan.

Zabiyllah Mujahid a spokesman for the Taliban said on the Taliban website that Baradar was still spending his days and nights locked away behind bars in poor health conditions, which are getting worse by the day. He called upon officials to release Baradar immediately.

Officials in Pakistan said that Baradar had been free but was living amongst tight security for his safety. The former commander of the Taliban is free to go anywhere he wants, but was accompanied at all times by security officials from Pakistan, said a government official.

A secure place has been provided to Baradar to live in that the general public is not allowed to enter.

Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan said this week that Baradar was released, but is not completely free. Karzai said Baradar had been in touch with his family. Karzai added that officials from Afghanistan were trying to reach Baradar to use him in the peace process.

Kabul demanded the release of Baradar since he had been arrested during a joint raid in Karachi in southern Pakistani in 2010.

While a certain number of people hope the release of Baradar will help the process of peace, others doubt much good comes from it. The U.S., which opposed him being released, is worried he might return to fight again.

That, worries U.S. officials, could give the Afghan Taliban a boost during a time when military forces were being drawn down.

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