Speculation mounts over Baradar arrest

Feb. 19, 2010 at 10:52 AM
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KARACHI, Pakistan, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar worked with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on a reconciliation effort before his capture, officials said.

Intrigue is circulating following a report Monday in which White House officials confirmed a joint U.S. and Pakistani intelligence raid netted Baradar, one of the highest-ranking Taliban officials captured since 2001.

U.S. officials told The New York Times that members of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Service and the CIA arrested Baradar "several days ago" in Karachi, Pakistan.

Ahmed Rashid, a regional expert and journalist, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that Baradar played a key role in the reconciliation effort unveiled by Karzai in the wake of a January summit for his country.

The plan, modeled after U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, calls for reconciling with moderate members of the Taliban to support the Afghan government.

Rashid, echoing speculation in several media reports, adds Pakistani intelligence services orchestrated the raid that nabbed Baradar to show U.S. officials that any Taliban effort has to include Islamabad.

Abdul Salam Zaeef, a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, told RFE/RL, meanwhile, that Baradar's capture will do little to help the reconciliation effort.

"If this (news) is true, it means that somebody wants to prevent people from reaching out to the Taliban by removing their key contact," he said.

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