Did NATO help imprisoned Taliban Commander return to Kabul?

In February the arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar during a raid in Pakistan was considered to be a major breakthrough in the Afghanistan conflict. At the time of his arrest Baradar was the Taliban’s supreme commander in Afghanistan and American officials had hoped that the Karzai government would be able to secure his return to Kabul to be tried. The Pakistani government allowed U.S. access to their celebrated prisoner after his arrest, however they would not release Baradar to the Afghan government.
 
Late last week it was reported that U.S. General David Petraeus confirmed that safe passage had been provided to high ranking members of the Taliban for travel to Kabul for preliminary peace talks with the Alghan government. U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said that “There have been an increasing number of people associated with the Taliban who’ve reached out and said ‘We want to talk about an alternative to the war.’” Holbrooke was careful not to suggest that these were “formal negotiations” for peace, he referred to the talks as a matter of “reintegration.”
 
Adding to the speculation is an exclusive story from Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief Syed Sadeem Shazad:
 
Pakistan has freed the supreme commander of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, so that he can play a pivotal role in backchannel talks through the Pakistan Army with Washington, Asia Times Online has learned.
 
The release of Baradar, who was arrested in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi in February, was confirmed by a senior Pakistani counter-terrorism official. He added that the United States was fully aware of the development although he gave no indication of the American’s reaction.
 
A senior Taliban leader, speaking to Asia Times Online on Thursday from the southern AfPak region, also confirmed that Baradar “had reached the safety of his people.” The implication is that he is back with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Baradar has represented Mullah Omar in previous peace talks with Washington, mediated by Saudi Arabia.
 
Meanwhile the National Journal reports that a number of al-Qaida militants have left their Pakistan strongholds and are returning to Afghanistan to plot new attacks in the troubled Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border between the two countries. The remote provinces have been the scene of brutal murders and the abduction of aid workers by Taliban insurgents in the past two months. The timing couldn’t be worse because:
 
The influx of al-Qaida fighters into Afghanistan, which hasn’t previously been reported, could trigger fresh attacks on coalition and Afghan targets and hamper the intensifying push to strike peace deals with moderate elements of the Taliban.
Nothing is ever easy in Afghanistan and things are never quite what they seem to be.

 
paboehmke@yahoo.com
In February the arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar during a raid in Pakistan was considered to be a major breakthrough in the Afghanistan conflict. At the time of his arrest Baradar was the Taliban’s supreme commander in Afghanistan and American officials had hoped that the Karzai government would be able to secure his return to Kabul to be tried. The Pakistani government allowed U.S. access to their celebrated prisoner after his arrest, however they would not release Baradar to the Afghan government.
 
Late last week it was reported that U.S. General David Petraeus confirmed that safe passage had been provided to high ranking members of the Taliban for travel to Kabul for preliminary peace talks with the Alghan government. U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said that “There have been an increasing number of people associated with the Taliban who’ve reached out and said ‘We want to talk about an alternative to the war.’” Holbrooke was careful not to suggest that these were “formal negotiations” for peace, he referred to the talks as a matter of “reintegration.”
 
Adding to the speculation is an exclusive story from Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief Syed Sadeem Shazad:
 
Pakistan has freed the supreme commander of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, so that he can play a pivotal role in backchannel talks through the Pakistan Army with Washington, Asia Times Online has learned.
 
The release of Baradar, who was arrested in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi in February, was confirmed by a senior Pakistani counter-terrorism official. He added that the United States was fully aware of the development although he gave no indication of the American’s reaction.
 
A senior Taliban leader, speaking to Asia Times Online on Thursday from the southern AfPak region, also confirmed that Baradar “had reached the safety of his people.” The implication is that he is back with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Baradar has represented Mullah Omar in previous peace talks with Washington, mediated by Saudi Arabia.
 
Meanwhile the National Journal reports that a number of al-Qaida militants have left their Pakistan strongholds and are returning to Afghanistan to plot new attacks in the troubled Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border between the two countries. The remote provinces have been the scene of brutal murders and the abduction of aid workers by Taliban insurgents in the past two months. The timing couldn’t be worse because:
 
The influx of al-Qaida fighters into Afghanistan, which hasn’t previously been reported, could trigger fresh attacks on coalition and Afghan targets and hamper the intensifying push to strike peace deals with moderate elements of the Taliban.
Nothing is ever easy in Afghanistan and things are never quite what they seem to be.

 
paboehmke@yahoo.com

RECENT VIDEOS