Hello Baradar

Why a lamb was sacrificed

The New York Times, which broke the story of the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, supposedly second only to Mullah Mohammed Omar in the Taliban firmament, says that it was the result of a joint US-Pakistani operation in Karachi last week. The news was kept secret in order to entrap other members of the Taliban leadership but was finally released to the public after “White House officials acknowledged that the capture of Mullah Baradar was becoming widely known in the region”—that is, after someone in Pakistan leaked it. [See analyses by M Ilyas Khan (‘BBC’), Amanda Hodge (The Australian) and Huma Yusuf (Christian Science Monitor)]

Now why was the poor Mullah ‘captured’? At an INI discussion this afternoon, we arrived at four potential answers.

First, given the fact that he was arrested in Karachi—and not Quetta, Peshawar or the tribal areas—it could well have been a CIA operation that led to his capture. Since it would be impolitic to present it as such, a convenient cover story of a joint operation becomes necessary. The fact that US operatives are interrogating Mr Baradar while he is in Pakistani custody supports this argument. If indeed it was a US operation that netted him, it would mean that the Obama administration has escalated covert operations in Pakistani territory to another level. Both Pragmatic Euphony and I lean towards this explanation.

Second, as Arif Rafiq of the Pakistan Policy blog has argued, Mr Baradar could have been sacrificed by General Kayani as a signal to Mullah Omar—that the Quetta Shura Taliban had better not stray too far from the line laid down by Rawalpindi. This might, for instance, require the Taliban to become more amenable to talks with the Americans and a deal with the Karzai government. Or it might actually be the opposite, as Mr Baradar was engaged in secret talks with the Karzai government and US forces. In any event, this explanation suggests that the Pakistani military establishment is using very strong tactics to coerce the Taliban.

Third, as my INI co-blogger Dhruva Jaishankar noted, it might well be that the Mr Baradar’s fate is similar to that of the several ‘right-hand men’ and ‘No 3’s’ that General Musharraf used to hand over to release some pressure that the United States exerted on him. While entirely plausible, it is unclear why the ‘capture’ should take place in Karachi—prompting uncomfortable questions as to who else is holed out in that city.

Fourth, just for the sake of analytical completeness, is the possibility that the Pakistani military establishment has decided to jettison the Quetta Shura Taliban. No, before you entertain wishful thoughts, this is not because of any ‘change of heart’ but because General Kayani might have calculated that this particular group is dispensable. It is the Haqqani militia that is Pakistan’s chief proxy in Afghanistan.

10 thoughts on “Hello Baradar”

  1. Hi,

    I tend to think that this is a side effect of the US announcement that it will start pulling out of Afghanistan in 2011. Once the Taliban have Afghanistan, what will they do next?

    One possibility is to join the Taliban in Pakistan in attacking the Pakistan Army. This would be a logical thing for an advocate of continuing jihad to think.

    As long as the US was going to be in Afghanistan forever, and was seen to be cooperating with the Indians, this was not a problem. The Taliban and the ISI had a common enemy. With the prospect of an American retreat likely in the fairly near future, this latent conflict of interest becomes an actual conflict of interest.

    So it is possible that the ISI betrayed this guy to the US as part of a plan to keep the Afghan Taliban in line, by eliminating leaders who favor expanding the Afghan jihad to Pakistan. Of course, they probably got a good price from the Americans for the information as well.


  2. From the above link:

    “Berader is considered to be the second major commander of the Taliban after Mullah Dadullah, who was killed during NATO operations in May 2007.”

    We saw “Al Qaeda No. 3” being killed many times over and over.

    Pakistan’s current list of No. 2 Al Qaeda captures are as follows:

    Dadullah (killed May 2007)
    Beradar (First Incarnation killed August 2007)
    Beradar (Re-incarnation currently in captivity)

  3. Sen. Kerry was visiting Pakistan. It is common for Pakis to give such ‘presents’ to visiting USAian dignitaries.

  4. Actually there may be a fifth one which the BBC brought up when talking about who Baradar is, which is that Baradar was the main point of contact between Karzai’s govt and Taliban negotiations to bring Taliban into Karzai’s govt. Apparently he held several meetings with Karzai’s people. If that were so, it’s easy to see why Paks would want Baradar taken away from his role. But what’s hard is, what’s in it for US, beyond bragging rights that it’s going after Taliban.

  5. @chandra, If the US has decided to chicken out of the Af-Pak war, as it seems to be the case, this so-called “superpower”, then they can brag about “successfully completing” their useless war on terror and leave Af-Pak to the mercy of the Pakistanis.

    The question is whether Pakistan will now be involved in defining who the “good taliban” are, with Baradar out of the way — we should wait and see if the Pakis get a central role in Af-Pak once again, then India needs to get its act together for an Af-Pak under Pakistan control once more. I doubt “Talks with pakistan” will help.

    By betraying Baradar to the USA, It appears that the Pakistani Army has neutralized the negative outcomes from the London meet where the Good Taliban was accepted by the stakeholders in Af-Pak, except the Pakistani definition of “Good Taliban” is a different one from everyone else’s definition.

    If the USA fakes its way out of this war, then India needs to cease all talks immediately.

    We will know whether the US is faking its way out of its war if they let the Pakis have control of the Afghan opium trade and the Afghan Taliban.

  6. The gobbledygook of naratives, has just started. Scepticism about US loss in this war was rife even before the start of this war, mostly by western media. (I must add I was of the same view. What is the point in taking the Cavalry into a Guerrilla war.) This is merely the fructification of those enlightened western self assessment, which definitely carried weight.

    Helping the US fake a retreat can be used by Indians just as much as the Pakistanis. In fact Indian help in this regard will carry much more weight virtually everywhere. Just imagine the loving Indo-US relations with a tadka of a show of intel coop with Russians or perhaps even Zionist pigs (sic) or even the effect of one average joe Talibani handed over courtesy Indian intel and what have you….

    As for Afghans, they probably should not have allowed themselves to become a pawn in others hands, at some point in their history. Causation has strange ways of showing up effects.

    RMS Lusitania => killed 1,198 (not all americans)=> US goes to WW1
    Pearl Harbour => 2,345 military killed + 57 civilians killed => US goes to WW2
    9/11 => 2,973 civilians killed => what the ….

  7. @ravinder:
    “Helping the US fake a retreat can be used by Indians just as much as the Pakistanis. In fact Indian help in this regard will carry much more weight virtually everywhere.”

    ravinder, How much has Pakistani help to the USA helped Pakistan? Why should India help the USA if such “help” has destroyed Pakistan? If India is going to get “rewarded” for being a helpful little elf, what exactly is that reward going to be? Isn’t this the kind of Pakistani thinking that has gotten them to the current hole?

  8. @SR Murthy,
    When i said “helping the US’, i meant the colloquial usage of the expression, with all its amplitude. Even the complete comment that comes with the extract, will I am sure leave the same impression (at least it was meant to).

    Reducing India to the level of Pakistan (or even UK, Japan, Germany), is an idea that no Indian will ever even entertain. But surely you would also concede that, what Pakistan is doing today or has done in its history is just one of the limitless number of permutations/combinations available in the strategic response matrix.

    One has to be really skilled to get oneself in the spot, Pakistan is today, pun intended. And shenanigans like the Barader incident are just that shenanigans. Reality is obvious to virtually everybody, left, right, centre, hyperbole….everybody. Nobody is in control, everybody is in the fight and the winner will not really win and the looser will not really loose, unless and until the gamechanger is discovered.

  9. “But surely you would also concede that, what Pakistan is doing today or has done in its history is just one of the limitless number of permutations/combinations available in the strategic response matrix.”

    ravinder, given their “tactical brilliance” and overall stupidity, I think Pakistan’s behaviour has been rather random since the outcomes of all their stupid “strategic games” has been nothing but disaster for their country.

    Pakistan’s behaviour is like the idiot trying to walk through a realistic image of an open door on a wall: Idiot walks sturdily into the “door” with head held high…(idiot smacks into the wall and retreats)…”uh, maybe I should try going in sideways”….(idiot smacks into the wall and retreats)….”maybe I should walk in backwards and I will be on the other side”….and so on

Comments are closed.