Pakistan announced last week that it would free captured Taliban commander Mullah Adbul Ghani Baradar later this month. Baradar is one of the founders of the Taliban and was second in command when he was captured in Karachi through a joint operation between Pakistani and American intelligence forces in February 2010. At the time of his capture, the New York Times reported that Baradar directed the Taliban’s military operations and headed the group’s leadership council.
Afghan and Pakistani officials intend for the release of Baradar to advance peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban. A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced that the country welcomed the decision to release Baradar, stating “his release will certainly help the Afghan peace process.” Pakistan has already released 33 Afghan Taliban prisoners this year. At least some of those released are believed to have rejoined the militia group.
Formal peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan and U.S. governments were set to begin last June in Qatar. Talks stalled, however, after the Taliban opened an office in Doha proclaiming itself to be an official government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Together with Women for Afghan Women, the Feminist Majority Foundation has consistently warned about the dangers of negotiating with the Taliban and has urged that the international community continue to pursue other peace channels through funding for economic development, security, and women’s rights. “The Taliban can’t be trusted,” said Manizha Naderi, Executive Director of Women for Afghan Women. “They are killing civilians on a daily basis. You can’t negotiate peace on the one hand and kill civilians with the other.” Naderi also cautioned against backsliding on women’s rights, essential to the development of Afghanistan and the reconciliation process. “The Taliban will say that they will accept the Afghan Constitution and will respect girls’ right to go to school and women’s right to work, but when the US leaves, they can do what they want. Negotiations with the Taliban are not good for women.”