21 September 2013 Last updated at 11:41 GMT
Profile: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is one of the four men who founded the Taliban movement in Afghanistan in 1994.
He went on to become a linchpin of the insurgency after the Taliban were toppled by the US-led invasion in 2001.
He was eventually captured in a joint US-Pakistani raid in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in February 2010.
Little was heard of Mullah Baradar’s fate until late in 2012 when his name repeatedly topped the list of Taliban prisoners the Afghans wanted released in order to encourage nascent peace talks.
Pakistani officials released Mullah Baradar on 21 September but it is not clear whether he will be allowed to stay in Pakistan or sent to a third country.
At the time of his arrest he was said to be second-in-command to the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and one of his most trusted commanders.
Senior Afghan officials hope that a senior figure like him could persuade the Taliban to engage in talks with Kabul – a critical part of the government’s plan to ensure stability after Nato combat troops withdraw in 2014.
He is reputedly one of those leading militants who favour talks with the US and the Afghan government.
Controller of funds
After helping found the Taliban movement in 1994, Mullah Baradar developed a profile as a military strategist and commander.
A key Taliban operative, he was believed to be in day-to-day command of the insurgency and its funding.
He held important responsibilities in nearly all the major wars across Afghanistan, and remained top commander of Taliban’s formation in the western region (Herat) as well as Kabul. At the time the Taliban were toppled he was their deputy minister of defence.
“His wife is Mullah Omar’s sister. He controlled the money. He was launching some of the deadliest attacks against our security forces,” an Afghan official who did not want to be named told the BBC at the time of his arrest.
Mullah Baradar, like other Taliban leaders, was targeted by UN Security Council sanctions, which included the freezing of assets, a travel ban and an arms embargo.
Before his 2010 capture, he made few public statements.
But one of those statements was in July 2009, when he apparently engaged in an email exchange with Newsweek magazine.
Asked for a reaction to the US troop surge in Afghanistan, he said the Taliban wanted to inflict maximum losses on the Americans.
He also vowed to continue the “jihad” until “the expulsion of our enemy from our land”.
He said Mullah Omar was in good health and leading the fight against the coalition and denied Taliban leaders were based in Pakistan.
Asked what would be the conditions for peace talks, he replied: “The basic condition is the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.”
According to Interpol, Mullah Baradar was born in Weetmak village in Dehrawood district, in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, in 1968.
But he is also known to be part of the Popalzai branch of Durrani tribe, the same as Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
He is reported to have stayed in touch with Mr Karzai’s brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who was head of the Kandahar provincial council from 2005 until his assassination in July 2011.
20 September 2013 Last updated at 21:46 GMT
Pakistan to free Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Baradar on Saturday
Former Afghan Taliban second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is to be released from prison in Pakistan on Saturday, the foreign ministry says.
A spokesman said the release was to “further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process”.
Mullah Baradar is one of the four men who founded the Taliban movement in Afghanistan in 1994.
He became a linchpin of the insurgency after the Taliban were toppled by the US-led invasion in 2001.
He was captured in the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010.
Afghan officials said at the time that he had been holding secret peace talks with the Afghan government and accused Pakistan of trying to sabotage or gain control of the process.
Correspondents say he has since emerged as a figure who Afghanistan and Pakistan believe could help persuade Taliban fighters to lay down their weapons and join peace talks.
A mid-level Afghan Taliban official told the AFP news agency that Mullah Baradar’s release would not have any effect on events in Afghanistan.
“[It] won’t change anything: he will be just a simple guy with no position in the Taliban network,” he said.
It is not clear where Mullah Baradar will be sent after his release.
A Pakistani official and a Taliban source in north-west Pakistan told AFP that he is likely to stay at home in Karachi where his family lives.
“He will be kept as a simple guy in the network who can convey messages from time to time, but who will not be able to reintegrate the shura [Taliban council] and regain power,” the Taliban official said.
Afghanistan wants him repatriated but Pakistani sources said this month he was more likely to be sent straight to a third country such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey.
Friday’s announcement was welcomed by the Afghan government.
“We welcome that this step is being taken,” Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai told AFP news agency.
“We believe this will help the Afghan peace process. This is something we have been calling for for a long time. It was on the agenda when the president visited Pakistan, so we are pleased.”
The Pakistani foreign ministry recently revealed that some 26 Taliban prisoners had been freed over the past year.
Correspondents say that there is little evidence that previous releases of Taliban detainees have had a positive effect on peace negotiations, and several prisoners are understood to have returned to the battlefield.
Analysts say that there is also evidence that Mullah Baradar is not as important for Taliban as he used to be.
In a visit to Islamabad last month, President Karzai urged Pakistan “to facilitate peace talks” between his country and the Taliban.
He said the Pakistani government could provide opportunities for talks between the Afghan High Peace Council and the militants.
In response, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he wanted to help regional efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.
Most Nato combat troops are due to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, leaving the country to handle its own security.