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Pakistan Insists Afghan Taliban Leader Mullah Baradar 'Free'


Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad in August

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad in August

Pakistan has rejected an Afghan Taliban statement that Islamabad has not fulfilled a promise to free their former second-in-command.

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman said on October 9 that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar "is free to meet and contact anyone to advance the cause of reconciliation."

Earlier in the day, an Afghan Taliban spokesman said Baradar "still spends his days and nights in prison," and his health was deteriorating "day by day."

Baradar is seen by many in Afghanistan as the key to restarting peace talks with the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan announced Baradar's release in mid-September, but has offered no information on his whereabouts since then.

Reports say Baradar has since been moved between safe houses in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, near the Afghan border.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his week Baradar's freedom was still restricted and he called on Pakistan to cooperate.

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"We are trying to find a contact number or his address to talk to him," Karzai said.

Baradar was arrested in a joint CIA operation in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010.

Based on reporting by Reuters, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, dpa, and BBC Urdu
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