Mullah Abdul GhaniBaradar,
captured near Karachi by a joint
U.S.-CIA operation in February 2010, has been talking
the Afghans and by extension the United States about how
to resume talks.
But some Pakistanis want their government
to extract concessions from the U.S.
and allies for permitting
the talks with Baradar
to take place.
U.S.-Afghan Talks with
Taliban Chief Must Benefit Pakistan, and Not India (The Nation, Pakistan)
"If the U.S.
and the regime it has imposed on Afghanistan derive any benefit from talking to
Taliban number two Mullah Biradar, Pakistan should
ensure that it, too, benefits. In this situation, Pakistan must remain wary of
India lurking in the background. Brought into Afghanistan by the Americans and
the Karzai regime, both will try to provide it a role
in the Afghan endgame."
Jalaluddin Haqqani, some time in the 1990s: A Pashtun and a fierce leader of the resistance to Soviet occupation, he now leads a pro-Taliban group of fighters who have been mounting increasingly effective attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces. The U.S. suspects that Pakistan is backing the group.
The Afghan government has spoken to former Taliban
second-in-command Mullah Abdul GhaniBaradar, who has been
in Pakistani custody since last December. Afghan National Security Adviser RanginSpanta disclosed this to
foreign reporters on Sunday. The disclosure signals that Pakistan must now play
an enhanced role in the Afghan peace process, and that the Kabul government is
trying to kick start a peace process that has been stalled since the breakdown
of talks in Qatar. For Mullah Biradar, who is still
regarded as the day-to-day commander of the Taliban, giving Kabul access to him
was obviously a major step.
But even if the talks show that the U.S. is serious about
finding a way out and allow it to meet its commitment to withdraw by 2014, this
is no time for Islamabad to celebrate. While it may well be that releasing
Mullah Biradar from Pakistani custody would enable
America to open a channel of communication with the Taliban, this takes no
account of whether Pakistan’s national interests are being met. The man is in
Pakistan's custody. It should not be America's interests alone that are served.
Pakistan comes in a distant third, after the U.S. and the Karzai
regime, both of which would benefit from such talks.
Another topic worthy of consideration is why Washington is so
anxious to talk to the roots, while at the same time pressing Pakistan to take
military action against the branches. Whereas, by holding negotiations with
Mullah Biradar, the U.S. has shown a readiness to
negotiate with the Taliban, at the same time it is pressing Pakistan to send
its army into North Waziristan and take action against the Haqqani
Network, which is acting in support of the Taliban that the U.S. is negotiating
with. Rather, following the example of the U.S. in dealing with the Taliban,
Pakistan should be talking to and not shooting at the Haqqanis.
Pakistan must be very careful not to fall into the role of
mere facilitator, as it seems to be doing. If it holds Mullah Biradar, it should not do so merely as a mere jailor, but
should derive tangible benefit from doing so. If the U.S. and the regime it has
imposed on Afghanistan derive any benefit from talking to Mullah Biradar, Pakistan should ensure that it, too, benefits. In
this situation, Pakistan must remain wary of India lurking in the background.
Brought into Afghanistan by the Americans and the Karzai
regime, both will try to provide it a role in the Afghan endgame.