Afghan meeting with jailed Taliban leader in Pakistan denied

Afghan delegates were not given access to Baradar in jail but family members had passed him a message: Source

Afp August 14, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan embassy in Islamabad on Tuesday denied reports that Afghan government representatives had met with a key Taliban commander imprisoned in Pakistan to discuss peace negotiations.

"No such meeting has taken place. We completely deny any meeting between Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Afghan officials," Zardasht Shams, spokesman for the Afghan embassy in Islamabad, told AFP.

A source close to Mullah Baradar's family told AFP that Afghan delegates were not given access to Baradar in jail but family members had passed him a message from the Afghan government on reconciliation.

Baradar, a powerful Taliban military chief who has been described as the insurgents' second in command was arrested in 2010 in Karachi.

At the time, the Afghan government and the former UN envoy to Afghanistan said his detention had adversely affected efforts to talk to the insurgents in a bid to end the decade-long Afghan war.

Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, a member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, on Monday said Afghan government officials and members of the Afghan embassy in Pakistan held secret talks with Baradar in prison two months ago.

A Pakistani security official confirmed Monday an official delegation from Afghanistan had made an initial contact with Baradar two months ago, but the Pakistani government later denied a meeting.

"The news reports about a meeting between Afghan officials and Mullah Baradar are baseless and incorrect," said the Pakistani interior ministry in a short statement issued late Monday.

President Hamid Karzai has long sought to negotiate with the Taliban but they have in public refused to deal with his administration, branding it an American puppet.