London-bound Karzai to push Pakistan on Taliban commander

London-bound Karzai to push Pakistan on Taliban commander

KABUL - Afghan President Hamid Karzai (above) will push Pakistan to reveal the location of key Taliban commander Mullah Baradar during trilateral talks to be held in Britain on Tuesday, officials in Kabul said.

Baradar was released from jail in Pakistan as part of efforts to kickstart Afghanistan's peace process, but he has since been kept under house arrest, reportedly in Karachi or Peshawar, to the fury of Afghanistan.

"We will look for explanations from the Pakistan government for the exact whereabouts of Mullah Baradar and how can Pakistan facilitate direct talks between Mullah Baradar and the High Peace Council," Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP.

The High Peace Council is the Afghan body charged with opening negotiations with the Taliban insurgents as US-led NATO forces prepare for withdrawal from the country by the end of next year.

Afghan officials believe that Baradar, who had been held in jail in Pakistan since 2010, could encourage Taliban leaders to seek a negotiated settlement to end the 12-year insurgency if he were fully at liberty.

About 400 Afghan soldiers or policemen die every month fighting the Islamist militants.

"Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised the release of Mullah Baradar, which they did, but Mullah Baradar is still under very strict supervision by Pakistan authorities," Faizi said.

Karzai, Sharif and British Prime Minister David Cameron will meet on Tuesday for the fourth trilateral summit designed to foster stability in the volatile south Asia region.

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