ISLAMABAD / WASHINGTON, Feb 17 The Pakistani military and the US government confirmed on Wednesday that the Afghan Taliban's top commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had been captured.

Mullah Baradar, the most senior Taliban commander ever arrested in Pakistan, was picked up in Karachi this month in a raid by Pakistani and US agents.

“At the conclusion of detailed identification procedure, it has been confirmed that one of the persons arrested happens to be Mullah Baradar,” Inter-Services Public Relations said. It gave no details, citing security reasons.

An intelligence official said security agents had been searching for Mullah Baradar in Quetta.“Sensing that he might be arrested, he somehow slipped out of Quetta and into Karachi, maybe in disguise. That's where we arrested him, about four days back.”

The US was involved in Mullah Baradar's interrogation, the official said.

Asked if the Taliban commander could help with the Afghan reconciliation process, he said “It might lead to that eventually... Anything is possible but so far we have not come to that.”

The White House hailed the capture of Mullah Baradar as a “big success” for joint US-Pakistan efforts to combat extremists. “It is a big success for our mutual efforts in the region,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The spokesman did not give details on what kind of intelligence Mullah Baradar was providing but said the capture of the number two Taliban figure was “significant”.US special envoy Richard Holbrooke told reporters in Kabul “We commend the Pakistanis for their role in this and it is part of a deepening cooperation between us.”—Reuters/AFP


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