Pakistan to release prominent Afghan Taliban leader

Pakistan has decided to release a prominent Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who it has held in custody since 2010, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

"We have decided to release Mullah Ghani Baradar," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told reporters, confirming local media reports in recent days.

He said Baradar would be released at an appropriate time and would not be handed over to the Afghan government.

Baradar is regarded as a founder of the Afghan Taliban movement and second-in-command of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Umar.

He was arrested in Karachi in 2010 as he was preparing to go abroad, allegedly for talks brokered by Western and Arab countries.

Pakistani newspapers have reported that after his release, Baradar would be shifted to either Saudi Arabia or Turkey, both of which are being mentioned possible new venues for talks between Afghan Taliban militants and the United States.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman's confirmation of his impending release comes a day after a security conference attended by leaders of Pakistan's government, military, and ruling and opposition parties resolved to hold dialogue with Pakistani Taliban militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.