Pakistan: Detained Taliban leaders 'linked to ISI'

Islamabad, 23 Feb. (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - Key Taliban leaders arrested by Pakistan recently were all in contact with the country's military spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. Strategic experts believe the decision to arrest them was made by Pakistan's army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani who was looking to win favour with Washington, and create pressure on Islamabad to avoid retirement in November and extend his term.

Among those arrested include the Taliban's supreme commander in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar; the former governor of the Afghan province of Nangarhar, Moulvi Abdul Kabeer; Mullah Abdul Salam, the shadow governor of Kunduz; and Mir Muhammad, also a shadow governor in northern Afghanistan.

“Undoubtedly, they were Pakistan’s strategic assets and their arrest might have dire consequences for Pakistan," a senior strategic expert told AKI.

Apart from Baradar, these Taliban leaders were considered to be assets for the Pakistan military, with whom they had direct links.

Kabeer was known to be in contact with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) until his arrest at the weekend.

Moulvi Abdul Kabeer did not visit North Waziristan because Al-Qaeda suspected him as ISI man. Although he was part of Taliban’s command council, senior level Taliban commanders always remained skeptical about his allegiances.

Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s shadowy governor of Kunduz had an identical background.

When ISI started mobilising forces against Rabbani’s government in Kabul back in 1994, Mullah Abdul Salam represented the Taliban militias in the ISI’s headquarters in Islamabad and since then he has constantly been an ISI asset.

Although Mullah Baradar was not directly in contact with ISI officials, his movements were followed by ISI and Pakistani security agencies turned a blind eye to his movements when every winter he stayed in the southern port city of Karachi. 

"In my personal opinion some very narrow vested interests became the reason for those arrests. Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Kiani is scheduled to retire on November 27, 2010.

"He cannot make a decision to extend his own service. It has to be done by the Pakistani government on the consent of Washington and therefore General Kiyani agreed to make their friends the scapegoats,” he said.


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