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  • Taliban Leader Capture Suggests Pakistan Strategy Shift

    The recent capture of the number two Afghan Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Bahadur in Pakistan is a blow to the Afghan Taliban and their ability to coordinate the insurgency in southern Afghanistan. Bahadur’s arrest will help reestablish Pakistan’s counterterrorism credentials with Washington. The Pakistan military leadership also may be seeking to ensure a role in determining the future direction of Afghanistan, at the same time U.S. and coalition forces begin an important offensive in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province. While it is too early to say whether the arrest of Bahadur signals a sea change in Pakistani thinking toward the Afghan Taliban, it shows at least a willingness to exert influence over the movement at a crucial moment in the Afghanistan war.

    While the administration should encourage these signs of fresh cooperation from Pakistan, the U.S. must remain clear-headed about Pakistani goals in the region and accept that Pakistani interests often diverge from those of the U.S. While the U.S. seeks to prevent Afghanistan from again serving as a safe haven for international terrorists, Pakistan’s primary goal is to curb Indian influence in the country. Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani restated in press interviews last week that India remains the primary threat to Pakistan and the focus of the Pakistani military.

    Pakistan’s fixation on India should give pause to U.S. policymakers when considering Pakistan’s expressed interest in brokering peace talks with the Taliban. While reintegration of local Taliban fighters into the mainstream democratic process is indeed part of the overall counterinsurgency strategy, it is necessary to distinguish this process from one that would legitimize the Taliban’s ruthless ideology. The enhanced focus on supporting Afghan-led reintegration has fueled speculation in the region and in some European capitals that the U.S. is seeking a political deal with senior Taliban leaders as part of an exit strategy from the region. Seeking to negotiate a political deal with the Taliban leadership (primarily based in Pakistan) before U.S. and NATO forces gain the upper hand on the battlefield in Afghanistan would be a tactical and strategic blunder with tremendous negative consequences for U.S. national security.

    The U.S. should back with diplomatic and financial support Afghan efforts to pursue reconciliation on the ground inside Afghanistan, and at the same time squeeze the Taliban leadership based in Pakistan that is still closely linked to al-Qaeda. These actions should occur simultaneously so that the local Taliban fighters view the U.S./NATO/Afghan authorities as being on the winning side and at the same time see a process through which they can switch sides. If, on the other hand, the U.S. appears overly anxious to negotiate with the senior Taliban leadership in Pakistan, this would likely undermine efforts to coax local fighters into the political mainstream, thus jeopardizing General McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and prolonging instability in the region

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Taliban Leader Capture Suggests Pakistan Strategy Shift

    1. RT, USA says:

      Two points:

      1. The name of the Taliban commander is Baradar, not Bahadur. Baradar is a nom-de-guerre actually, meaning Brother. BTW, Bahadur means brave and it is also often used as a surname by many Pashtuns and even some Indians and Nepalis

      2. There is strangely no mention of either the Haqqani faction or Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami, which along with the Quetta shura are the 3 main proxies of the Pakistani military. If the US objective (one hopes it still is true) is to ensure that there is no Al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan after its troops leave, then you want to talk to people who can be reliably persuaded to cut ties with Qaeda.

      Of the three Pak proxies, the Haqqanis are most organically tied to Al Qaeda, while Omar and the Quetta shura are a close second. Mullah Omar even risked giving up his control of Afghanistan and perhaps his own life rather than give up Bin Laden.

      The Pakistanis were unable to persuade either group to break Qaeda ties when the ISI was having breakfast, lunch and dinner with these guys every day.

      How in the heck does the Obama administration expects the Pakistanis to deliver these groups now, when Pakistan's ties with these guys are more tenuous and of lower leverage than before?

      Do the geniuses in the NSC, Pentagon and State Dept want to leave Afghanistan with a paper guarantee from the Paks?

      Someone please add an audio version of Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars" or the 9/11 commission report to the Ipods of these geniuses please!

    2. Neel123 says:

      Historically, any disbursement of US economic aid package to Pakistan has always been preceded with capturing some wnated terrorist.

      This drama between the US and Pakistan has been played time and again, and Baradar's arrest is surely another act of the play.

      It is time, the Americans go to the basics and address some fundamental questions about American policies of having cooperation with worlds most evil and sinister regimes, and providing generous economic and military support.

      In GOD's world, the ultimate loser will be the one that followed the path of evil. Americans national interests will not be preserved in the long run by following that path.

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