Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second-in-command to the one eyed head of Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, was arrested in Pakistan some days back by joint raid by US and Pakistani agents. Mullah Mohammad Omar founded Taliban in 1994 and was a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.
The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who contended that making it public would end a hugely successful intelligence-gathering effort. The officials said that the group’s leaders had been unaware of Mullah Baradar’s capture and that if it became public they might cover their tracks and become more careful about communicating with each other.Source: www.nytimes.com
This is a big step for US and Pakistan’s relationship as Pakistan’s intelligence community ISI had been fairly active with going after Pakistani Taliban but were reluctant to go after Afghan Taliban whose heads are reported to be working from Pakistan.
American intelligence officials believe that elements within Pakistan’s security services have covertly supported the Taliban with money and logistical help — largely out of a desire to retain some ally inside Afghanistan for the inevitable day when the Americans leave.
The ability of the Taliban’s top leaders to operate relatively freely inside Pakistan has for years been a source of friction between the ISI and the C.I.A. Americans have complained that they have given ISI operatives the precise locations of Taliban leaders, but that the Pakistanis usually refuse to act.
The Pakistanis have countered that the American intelligence was often outdated, or that faulty information had been fed to the United States by Afghanistan’s intelligence service.
Taliban spokesman insists that Baradar is still free despite the fact that his capture is well known in the region.
“This is just rumor spread by foreigners to divert attention from the Marja offensive,” said the spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid.
“They are facing big problems in Marja. In reality there is nothing regarding Baradar’s arrest. He is safe and free and he is in Afghanistan.”
Who is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?
He is second-in-command to the one eyed head of Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar and is believed to be one of the founders of the organisation.
He is believed to be responsible for appointing commanders and a shadow network of governors and is particularly involved in western and southern Afghanistan, where up to 15,000 troops are now conducting Operation Moshtarak. He has been in day-to-day command of the Taliban insurgency.
American officials believe that besides running the Taliban’s military operations, Mullah Baradar runs the group’s leadership council, often called the Quetta Shura because its leaders for years have been thought to be hiding near Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province in Pakistan.
Mullah Baradar was born in Weetmak village in Dehrawood district in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan in 1968.
Interpol says he is also known as Mullah Baradar Akhund, and describes him as the Taliban’s deputy minister of defence – his role until the Taliban was toppled in 2001.
Mullah Baradar, like other Taliban leaders, is subject to UN Security Council sanctions which include the freezing of assets, a travel ban and an arms embargo.
He is also said to be a member of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura, or leadership council, which is the group’s top decision-making body.
The BBC’s Ilyas Khan, in Islamabad, says Mullah Baradar has also been close to the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI.
However, although regarded as the commander of Taliban forces, Mullah Baradar is reported to be among those leading militants who favour talks with the US and the Afghan government.
This might be a temporary blow to Taliban for losing Baradar but definitely a big blow to them with regards to their relationship with Pakistan.