A group of Taliban militants greet people as a goodwill gesture in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on June 17. Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was released from custody in Pakistan, the group said Thursday. File Photo by Muhammad Sadio/EPA-EFE
Oct. 25 (UPI) -- One of the Taliban's founding members has been released from detention in Pakistan, a move that could be part of wider U.S. peace talks with the Afghan group.
The Taliban said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, also known as Mullah Baradar, was released at an undisclosed location and reunited with his family.
"Yes, it is formally confirmed that Mullah Baradar has been released," a Taliban spokesman said.
Baradar was the group's second in command and ran the insurgency until he was captured in a raid in Karachi in 2010. Baradar could be a critical figure as the United States begins peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan. He's been portrayed as someone who is open to negotiations.
"This release has come at a time when the United States has started directly talking to Taliban, it seems the timing [for the release] is really important," Zahin Hussain, an analyst in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera.
Baradar founded the Taliban with three other men in 1994 and served in key positions when the group ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. He's seen by some as a pragmatic leader who set guidelines for how soldiers under his command would treat locals to win support from the Afghan people.
After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, he met with met at least once with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai,