Pakistan Won’t Turn Taliban Leaders Over to Afghanistan or US

ISI Reportedly Mad Baradar Bypassed Pakistan in Karzai Talks

Officials say that the Pakistani government continues to refuse to hand over top Taliban figure Mullah Baradar to either the United States or Afghanistan, despite repeated calls to do so.

Baradar was arrested last month in Karachi after a US tip, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik initially indicated that he would be extradited to Afghanistan as soon as they requested him. Repeated requests, however, have led to a messy court battle in Pakistan and an increasingly reluctant government.

Reportedly Pakistani officials are concerned that if they hand Baradar over to Afghanistan he will wind up in US custody in short order and will disappear into a CIA interrogation center somewhere.

But the fight over the mullah actually goes much deeper than that. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was reportedly in direct talks with Baradar over a possible reconciliation jirga before his arrest. As one of the more moderate Taliban leaders, Baradar penned a guide urging militants to avoid killing civilians, and was seen as a promising peace partner.

But the Pakistani government was basically obliged to arrest him after the US “tipoff,” and their Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is reportedly irked that Baradar was talking to Afghanistan directly. Pakistan has long sought to use the ISI’s traditional links with the Taliban to fascilitate peace talks, and was apparently none too happy at being cut out of the deal. Karzai was reportedly angry with the arrest, which will likely do serious harm to the jirga.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.