National Review: Realities Of The Taliban Capture

February 19, 2010

By Ahmad Majidyar

While the arrest of the Taliban’s No. 2, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, could deal a serious blow to the Taliban in the short term — as the insurgent group is struggling to counter NATO’s ongoing offensive in southern Afghanistan — its long-term impact on overall Taliban activity in Afghanistan, Kabul’s reconciliation efforts, and U.S.-Pakistan cooperation should not be overstated.

Mullah Baradar was a senior figure in the Taliban’s hierarchy, ranking second only to Mullah Omar in the Taliban’s Rahbari Shura (leadership council). He became the undisputed leader of the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) after the capture of Mullah Omar’s deputy Obaidullah Akhund in February 2007, and the death of the Taliban’s top military commander, Mullah Dadullah, later that year. As Omar has remained reclusive, it was Baradar who had been chairing the Taliban’s ten-member Rahbari Shura, appointing and firing local governors and commanders, and issuing the Taliban’s policy statements since then.

Despite Baradar’s top position, however, it is overly optimistic to hope for a leadership crisis within the Taliban or a collapse of the movement following his arrest, as predicted by many analysts. The Taliban have been remarkably adept at replacing leaders without allowing any significant damage to the group. The disappearance of Dadullah and Obaidullah did not weaken the Taliban: The group has grown in strength ever since. Moreover, the Taliban’s leadership apparatus and military operations are not controlled by one individual, and there is a great deal of decentralization of power within the movement.

In addition, while the arrest is a major intelligence breakthrough with regard to the Afghan Taliban, many analysts have rashly concluded that it marks a shift in Pakistan’s policy of supporting the Afghan Taliban. It is not the first time that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), under pressure from Washington, has cooperated with the CIA to capture Afghan Taliban leaders. But Pakistan’s cooperation has always been tactical rather than strategic. The arrest of Obaidullah took place on the same day former vice president Dick Cheney was visiting Islamabad. Pakistan still sees the Haqqani network as a “strategic asset,” although it has arrested several members of the Haqqani family in the past (only to release them later when the U.S. pressure subsided).

It is also possible some QST leaders have colluded with the ISI to oust Baradar. In late December, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) leaked information on an allegedly “widening rift” between Omar and Baradar over the leadership system and how to counter the U.S. military surge in Afghanistan. On January 8, Afghanistan’s state-run Bakhtar News Agency, quoting an unnamed Afghan intelligence official, reported that Mullah Baradar had relocated recently from Quetta to Karachi, dividing the QST into two factions. “Commanders now under the leadership of Mullah Omar have become frustrated that the commanders belonging to Baradar are more active and enjoy more resources, and they have complained to Omar that Mullah Zakir, Mullah Mansoor, and Mullah Rasu—– the Taliban commanders leading the fight in southern Helmand Province and Farah Provinc—– are now acting in favor of Baradar and have more financial resources than them,” the report pointed out.

The disagreement, according to the report, was so serious that Mullah Omar called for a Taliban leadership council to decide on Baradar’s fate. Other reports have indicated that Sirajuddin, the leader of the Haqqani network, had also become critical of Baradar recently over the latter’s opposition to aggressive tactics to counter the U.S. surge. Thus, if the NDS intelligence is accurate, it is not inconceivable that some Taliban leaders may have conspired against Baradar to keep the movement united. Perhaps that is the reason the ISI cooperated this time.



  1. “(only to release them later when the U.S. pressure subsided).”

    Openly accepting that you guys are supporting terrorists.

  2. The story does not sound reliable one bit. If read in a hurry, it might fool the retarded but there are loopholes.

    – What about the arrest of other shadow governers?
    – Why was it a joint effort of US and Pakistani agency if the Taliban really wanted to get rid of him? If we accept that Dadullah was killed by the Taliban, then this entire story sounds empty.

    Here is what might have happened:
    Just like before, these people succumbed to US pressure but this time it was not just pressure, it must have been some promises as well such as Pakistan’s share in post US Afghanistan or some other secret deals and these nationilists arrested non-Pakistanis without having to fight their conscience.

    Islam first, Pakistan later !

  3. Agreed adeel,

    There are so many loop holes, its not the arrest of Mullah baradar, but 2 other Taliban leaders have been captured by ISI, And today i read on a website ‘US Missile killed Siraj Haqqani’s Son’.

    Why are we forgetting that this Government is still continuing Musharraf regime’s policies and its the same army.

    I dont think so that we should expect anything better from US for Pakistan, US is serving its own interests.

    Islam first, Pakistan Later …..

  4. these keyanis and isi so called pakistani intelligence
    are working for the betterment of themselves that i mean financialy they dont give a stuff about the ordinary pakistani or the pakistani state as a whole the sooner we realise this the better
    regarding mullar baradar capture it is simply that the americans increased its ransom for his capture and these dogs at the top could not resist keyanis zardaris maliks pashas gillanis qureshis of this world are sell out and only occupy these position to serve their masters in washington london paris bonn etc etc one last point the mujahideen should exchange mullah baradar for the american soldier it has in its custody
    nujat pakistani pakhtun patrioc

    • Nujat,

      Your ONLY problem with General Kiyani is that he is not shooting down drones (according to your own mental abilities, as you perceive him the symbol of power, and you think he should keep aside everything and every other issue and just shoot down the drones to make you happy). Thats all.

      And that is not legitimate reason to label a person absolutely wrong and lump him with other corrupt people and politicians.

      • we will agree to disagree mr chaudery me and you are very very apart on this issue

  5. Adeel and Mubeen,

    You’re so ignorant of what has happened. The arrest was not a joint CIA-ISI operation. Read NYT article today. It was a purely CIA intelligence gathering leaving the ISI no room to maneuver. ISI didn’t let the CIA for two weeks to access Baradar. They even didn’t know the person they’ve captured was Baradar.

    Being a nationlist is good, but ignoring realities for the harm of the nation is ignorant.

    • @ Real Pakistani
      I was already suspecting it. That is why I kept quite on this news. I knew something has gone wrong. Some brothers on this blogg quickly jumped to conclusion and started blamming Pakitan Army.

      • Imran and my other brother,

        Fine if this is an incident, what about the capture of other 2 taliban leaders, We all know that afghani talibans are an asset (or they have soft corner for pakistan they never said anything wrong about pakistan), ISI and army should know how to takecare off them.

        I love my army, i never underestimated their abilities, but there are certain incidents that always leave question marks.

        Allah knows well, who is on the right track. My prayers are with them. Take some time out guys and read this article

    • what is going to be the outcome of his arrest afterall mullah baradar was no threat to pakistan
      he was more concerned with the americans in afghanistan will the pakistani authorities really give him up to the americans to deport to afghanistan or will they keep him as an asset in pakistan
      please explain real pakistani

    • I dont understand. CIA arrested Baradar with no room for ISI to maneuver then how coem ISI didnt let CIA access to Baradar or do you mean CIA didnt let ISI acces to Baradar?

      CIA didnt know it was Baradar?
      How can that be possible? Was he wearing a mask when he went to Dubai for negotiations? I just gave my opinion above. Another possible reason could be that ISI arrested Baradar because he was in favour of talks. I can only think of these two possible reasons based on logic and information available at the moment.

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