Update: In addition to the arrest of Mullah Baradar, we've also witnessed the death of the brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani Network, in a drone strike in Pakistan. Drones gone wild, indeed.
It's really difficult to discern the implications of Mullah Baradar's arrest in Pakistan. Attempting to read too much into the Taliban based on scattered news articles and rumor is a lot like listening to the ancient auguries predict the future based on animal entrails, so I'm hesitant to listen to the pundits on this one. Nevertheless, I've got a few questions which are downright baffling to me.
- Until recently, the Pakistani government has outright denied the existence of what we term the Quetta Shura--essentially a high council of leaders from the remnants of the ousted Taliban, believed to have been hiding in the Pashtun-dominated city of Quetta, in Baluchistan province of Pakistan. Now we see Mullah Baradar's arrest in the city of Karachi, a port city, and one of the largest cities in Pakistan. Was Mullah Baradar captured in the city? Are Taliban leaders currently hiding in one of the largest cities in Pakistan? Would al Qaeda leaders be moving with Taliban leaders, or do they remain in the border regions?
- Mullah Baradar had advocated a less brutal approach than Mullah Omar and many other Taliban leaders, and had also seemed to be spearheading an effort to reach some sort of settlement with the Afghan government. Are we witnessing an ideological shift and, maybe, a split away from the Taliban as a result of its tactics? Certainly, it wouldn't be without precedent. Al Qaeda in Iraq saw its ranks thin after their campaign of brutality--largely directed at their fellow Muslims--tarnished their image and led to the Awakening movements. Al Qaeda central is also finding it difficult to recruit. Could it be that the Taliban are also finding it difficult to hang on to their supporters as well?
I haven't had the time to follow the war in Afghanistan as closely as I would have liked to recently. Does anyone have any experience of insight to share?