Key Taliban leader to be released Saturday

The Pakistani government announced Friday that key Taliban leader Mullah Ghani Baradar, a close aide of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar would be released Saturday.

"In order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, the detained Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would be released tomorrow," a one-line statement released by the Foreign Ministry said.

Baradar was arrested in Karachi in 2010 as he was about to leave Pakistan allegedly on a reconciliation mission, according to security officials.

The Afghan president and Afghan High Peace Council have been seeking his release to speed up the intra-Afghan reconciliation process ahead of the planned pullout of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year.