London, Asharq Al-Awsat-An informed Afghan source familiar with the Afghan reconciliation issue has stated to Asharq Al Awsat that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second highest-ranking member of the Taliban Movement who was arrested in Pakistan last week, was a supporter of reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan both before and after the London conference that was held last month.
Speaking from Kabul, in a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the source said that, even though Mullah Baradar belongs to the wing of Taliban Leader Mullah Omar and comes from the Pashtun (Bobalzi) Tribe in Urzajan, the same tribe of President Hamid Karzai, a disagreement happened between them in recent weeks because he encouraged negotiations and won over a number of field commanders in Helmand.
The source asserted that a “Pakistani deception” led to the arrest of Mullah Baradar in Karachi after Islamabad found out that the US authorities seek to exclude Pakistan from the Afghan reconciliation process. The source added that they [the Pakistanis] wanted to prove to the Americans and Afghans their decisive role in the Taliban issue.
The source noted that any commander who rebelled against the Pakistani intelligence in the past was arrested and handed over to the United States.
But the source said that Mullah Baradar was a charismatic and popular figure, especially to the Afghans, and that he worked out military strategies and helped rebuild the group to become a powerful fighting force after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, experts on Afghan affairs warned of expected reactions by the Afghan Taliban in Pakistani territories, and said that such reactions might add to the deteriorating security situation in the country.
They said that Taliban might step up their military operations in Afghanistan in the coming days to show that they are not affected by the arrest of Baradar.
It should be noted that the arrest of the military commander of the Afghan Taliban Movement in Pakistani territories validates US and Afghan claims that the movement’s command runs the battles inside Afghanistan from Pakistan. Washington said many times that the leader of the Taliban Movement, Mullah Omar, resides in the Pakistani City of Quetta.
It is Baradar who ran the Taliban’s day-to-day affairs from outside of Afghanistan. He secured supplies, planned military campaigns, and studied the latest US statements on plans to weaken his fighters and achieve stability in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere, Abdul Ghaffar Aziz, official in charge of foreign relations in the Pakistani Jamaat-i-Islami [Islamic Party], said in a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that some 1.5 million Afghan immigrants live in Pakistani cities, including the City of Karachi whose population is about 22 million.
He added: The Afghans speak the Pashtu and Urdu languages and can easily integrate into the society. They cannot be expelled because they are Muslim people who suffered from the afflictions of wars. They have been living in our country since the years of fighting against the Soviets.
He continued: Also, it is easy for the Taliban members to hide in most Pakistani cities because they integrate into the society. They cross the Afghan borders and come back.
He noted that the joint military operation that led to the arrest of the second man in the Taliban Movement also shows that the Pakistani intelligence services’ cooperation with the CIA has not ceased since the fall of the Taliban Movement at the end of 2001.
Speaking about a collapse in the security situation in the City of Karachi, Abdul Ghaffar Aziz said acts of killing are carried out every day in the city where security chaos prevails because members of the “United National Group”, led by Pakistani oppositionist Altaf Hussein who resides in Britain, are in control of the situation.
He spoke about the people’s endless overwhelming anger at US drones’ strikes in the tribal strip. He held the Pakistani Government responsible for these attacks because of what he termed the government’s stupid policies and the war that it has been waging on Taliban’s armed men.
Mullah Baradar, who was captured in a joint operation by US and Pakistani forces, is described as the greatest author of the Taliban strategies and as having played a leading role in the raids that were carried out in the Special Forces style. Also, he is described as a defender of suicide bombings.
Most likely, he is the man who encouraged the hardliners to confront one of the largest NATO operations in Afghanistan that is currently under way in the Helmand Province.
Berader, who was born in 1968, was the right-hand man of Mullah Omar. Mullah Omar named him Baradar “the brother”, and this title gave him influence and high standing in the Taliban circles.