Pakistan will release the Afghan Taliban's former deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Saturday to help reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministry said, dpa reported.
The decision to release him came after Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged Islamabad, during his official visit in August, to help set up talks with rebels allegedly based in Pakistan.
The ministry was vague Friday as to whether Baradar would be handed over to Afghan authorities or might be sent to another country to revive stalled negotiations.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said this week in an interview that Baradar might be sent to either Turkey or Saudi Arabia.
There are reports that talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban might take place in one of the two countries.
Baradar is the most senior of 34 Afghan Taliban detainees Islamabad had released so far.
He was the group's second-in-command until his arrest in 2010 from the southern city of Karachi in a joint raid by Pakistani and American intelligence agencies.
Islamabad said its decision to set free Afghan Taliban officials was aimed at boosting international efforts to end the 12-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.
But there are doubts whether the move can achieve the desired goal.
A member of Afghan High Peace Council, a body Karzai set up to spearhead dialogue with the militant group, last week said Pakistan's release of Taliban leaders has so far had no impact.
Diplomatic and intelligence sources said Baradar may not have the same influence within the militia as before the arrest.
"This is how it happens in insurgencies. Once you are arrested, your loyalty is in doubt," said a Pakistani diplomat. "This may be true about Baradar."
A spokesman for the Taliban had already announced those who were in custody either in Afghanistan or Pakistan would not have any role in negotiations.
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