KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The Taliban groups in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan may have the same roots, but some analysts say they are now separate groups with different goals.
The analysts told the Voice of America the Afghan Taliban, which once provided a home to al-Qaida, now seems to be getting farther away from it, while the Pakistani Taliban seems to be drawing closer to the Osama bin Laden terror group by giving it sanctuary in Pakistan's tribal regions.
However, there is still no clear picture as to how closely the two Taliban groups are linked to al-Qaida.
One U.S. counter-terrorism official told VOA there is still close cooperation among the groups, with al-Qaida both supporting Taliban efforts in Afghanistan and attacks by the Pakistani Taliban.
However, Richard Barrett, chief of the U.N. al-Qaida-Taliban Monitoring Team, said while al-Qaida's ties with the Pakistani Taliban are quite strong, those with the Afghan Taliban have withered.
"You do not see many al-Qaida people in Afghanistan at all now," he said. "And really their base, their future, is all linked up with the Pakistan Taliban."
Barrett and other like-minded analysts say the Afghan Taliban is looking to some kind of political role in a future Afghanistan. They also say the Afghan Taliban's goals are more local, while those of al-Qaida are global.
In Pakistan, the military's campaign has centered mainly against its own Taliban, while it has thus far left the Afghan Taliban, suspected to have its headquarters in the Pakistan's Quetta, largely alone.
In this context, Western analysts say they are puzzled by the recent capture in Karachi of Mullah Baradar, the Afghan Taliban's top military commander, but say it is too early to conclude it points to a change in course by Pakistan.