Top Taliban commander Mullah Baradar's arrest in a joint US-Pak operation does not mean that Pakistan is moving against the militants and may be seen as a key strategy of the country aimed at maintaining influence on its "western flank", a US think tank said on Wednesday.
"Moving against Baradar does not mean the Pakistanis are moving against the Taliban — far from it, in fact," Stratfor said in its news analysis of the arrest of the top Taliban leader.
"A key strategic imperative of Pakistan is to be able to maintain influence on its western flank, something that is hardwired into the country’s geopolitics," it noted.
While Pakistan also does not want to overly rely on the Taliban, it can achieve a sphere of influence in Afghanistan only through the Pashtuns, due to cross-border ethnic linkages.
With the Taliban being the single most powerful group among the Pashtuns, the Pakistanis do not have any other option but to work with the Taliban, it said.
"Thus, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar's arrest, regardless of whether it is a genuine capture of a wanted fugitive or is part of some complex covert negotiation process, shows that Pakistan is trying to regain lost influence over the Afghan Taliban and in the process is catering to US needs as well – both of which are necessary elements that will help in serving Islamabad’s long-term interests in Afghanistan," Stratfor said.