Washington: The Hamid Karzai government is accusing Pakistan of "orchestrating" the arrest of Mullah Baradar and other Taliban leaders "most amenable to negotiation" to scuttle its move to establish peace, a media report said on Saturday.
Pakistan arrested over a dozen top Taliban commanders, including Baradar, a close aide of Mullah Omer, recently and has resisted demands to hand them over to Afghanistan.
The main effect, of Baradar`s arrest from Karachi last month, Afghan officials argue, has been to derail Afghan-led efforts to secure peace talks with the Taliban, making that peace ever more remote, The Washington Post said in a news dispatch from its correspondents in Kabul and Islamabad.
"Senior Afghan officials in the military and presidential palace accuse Pakistan of orchestrating the arrest of Baradar and others to take down Taliban leaders most amenable to negotiations," it said.
"Some of them say that Afghans had been in secret contact with Baradar before his arrest and that he was prepared to join the 1,400 people descending on Kabul next month for a peace conference," it added.
Despite Afghan requests, Pakistan has refused to hand over Baradar and other Taliban leaders, the daily said.
However, Pakistani officials flatly deny that they intended to derail the peace talks, The Post said.
Such an allegation, one Pakistani intelligence official said, is a "slur on us".
"There is a dire need for all of us, the international community and the Afghan government, to seek ways we can bring them peace," Shaida Mohammad Abdali, deputy national security adviser, was quoted as saying by the news daily.
The Washington Post said Afghan officials attribute to Pakistan multiple motives for the timing of the arrest of Baradar: a desire to not let Afghans control peace talks, to offer up select Taliban leaders to slake American demands for action, and to maintain a degree of influence over the Taliban movement they once openly supported.
An American military official in Kabul said Pakistan is using the capture of insurgents as a "trade bait" to extract more aid and military assistance from the US, the daily said.
After his arrest, Mullah Baradar has been interrogated by both the Pakistani and CIA intelligence officials, but the Afghan officials have not been given any access to him.
According to the newspaper, some Afghans say the arrests of Baradar and others undermined their bargaining position.
"He was ready to go to the peace jirga," one senior Afghan official was quoted as saying.
After his arrest, "the process of negotiations with the Taliban has slowed. We are now in a suspended state," he said.