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Baradar arrest: The ISI-Afghan Taliban honeymoon may be over

By Tahir Ali
February 17, 2010 19:29 IST
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The arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second-in-command of the Taliban forces operating in Afghanistan, is being seen as a dramatic shift in the policies of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency, which had hitherto covertly supported some of the organisation's top leaders.

But experts say that by helping the Central Intelligence Agency nab Baradar, the Pakistan government and the ISI will lose the sympathies of Mullah Omer-led Afghan Taliban, which has always criticised any action against Pakistani security forces by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Al Qaeda.

Baradar's arrest is not an isolated incident. The Pakistan government has earlier arrested a number of key Taliban members and handed them over to the US administration. But the international equations are altering in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, and the US has also decided to open the dialogue process with the 'good Taliban'.

Baradar, who was in contact with Pakistan's intelligence agencies, often visited Karachi and Quetta. According to sources, the Pakistan government had tried to use him as a pawn against Mullah Omar, to create a rift in the fundamentalist outfit, but their ploy had failed. Some experts believe that this might be the reason behind Baradar's arrest.

The Afghan Taliban had continued to support the Pakistan government despite the latter handing over Abdussalam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Islamabad, to the US administration after the 9/11 attacks.

In 2003, the Pakistan government had arrested Taliban minister Mullah Abdul Razzaq, but he managed to escape. In 2007, Pakistani secret agencies arrested Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, a former minister in the Taliban regime, and handed him over to the US.

In February 2008, Pakistan arrested Commander Mansoor Dadullah, the brother of Dadullah Akhund, a dreaded Afghan Taliban commander known for indoctrinating suicide bombers. He was arrested along with five other Taliban members in Baluchistan in Pakistan.

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Tahir Ali