Washington: Pakistan's military spy agency
ISI has warned the Taliban not to open negotiations with the
Hamid Karzai regime or the US without its permission.
Quoting top Pakistani security officials, New York Times
said that the Taliban leaders have been warned against
carrying out free-lance negotiations, where Islamabad is
"The message from the ISI is: no flirting," the paper
said quoting a western diplomat.
Times said the warnings from the ISI to Taliban come in
the backdrop of new reports that Pakistani intelligence had
used CIA to capture the Taliban No 2 Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar
from the port city of Karachi in last January because they
wanted to shut down secret talks that militia leaders had been
conducting with Afghan government that excluded Pakistan.
The paper said in the weeks after Baradar's capture,
Pakistani security officials had detained as many as 23
Taliban leaders, many of whom had been enjoying the protection
of Pakistan government for years.
But now, Times said, the Taliban leaders who were
detained had been set free to fight US forces again inside
Afghanistan. Among those released include Mullah Qayoom Zakir,
Abdul Kabir and Abdul Rauf Khadeem.
"We picked up Baradar and others because they were
trying to make a deal without us," Times quoted a senior
Pakistani security official as saying.
"We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We
are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the
Indians," the official told the paper.
Times said, the account now being offered in Islamabad
on Baradar's arrest highlights Pakistan's policy on
Afghanistan: retaining decisive influence over the Taliban,
thwarting arch enemy India and putting Pakistan in a position
to shape Afghanistan post war political order.
Quoting a senior NATO officer in Kabul, the report said
that in arresting Baradar and other Taliban leaders Pakistan
may have been trying to buy time to see if President Barack
Obama's strategy begins to prevail.
If it does, the Pakistani spy agency may eventually
decide to let the Taliban make a deal. But if the Americans
fail -- and if they began to pull out -- then it may decide to
retain the Taliban as their allies.
"We have been played before," the senior NATO officer
said. "That the Pakistanis picked up Baradar to control the
tempo of negotiation is absolutely plausible."
After capturing Baradar, Times said, the Taliban leader
had been whisked away by the ISI to Islamabad and de-briefed
for a week and Pakistan refused to allow the CIA to
interrogate or even to be present when they spoke.
It was only several days later that the CIA had learnt
Baradar's identity after helping ISI to capture him, and were
allowed to question him.
Times said the Pakistani officials even joked about the
CIA's 'naivete'. "They are so innocent," he said.
Contrary to reports, Baradar had not been extradited to
Kabul and was living comfortably in the safe house of
Pakistan's ISI, the paper said.
First Published: Monday, August 23, 2010, 23:55