When Pakistani security officers raided a house outside Karachi in late January, they had no idea that they had just made their most important capture in years.
American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications saying militants with a possible link to the Afghan Taliban’s top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, were meeting. Tipped off by the Americans, Pakistani counterterrorist officers took several men into custody, meeting no resistance.
Only after a careful process of identification did Pakistani and American officials realise they had captured Mullah Baradar himself, the man who had long overseen the Taliban insurgency against American, NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.
New details of the raid indicate that the arrest of the No. 2 Taliban leader was not necessarily the result of a new determination by Pakistan to go after the Taliban, or a bid to improve its strategic position in the region. Rather, it may be something more prosaic: “a lucky accident,” as one US official called it. “No one knew what they were getting,” he said.
Now the full impact of Mullah Baradar’s arrest will play out only in the weeks to come.
Relations between the intelligence services of the US and Pakistan have long been marred by suspicions that Pakistan has sheltered the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistanis have denied it.
The capture of Mullah Baradar was followed by the arrests of two Taliban “shadow governors” elsewhere in Pakistan. While the arrests showed a degree of Pakistani cooperation, they also demonstrated how the Taliban leadership has depended on Pakistan as a rear base. NYT