Eide sheds new light on Taliban arrests
Former UN special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, has accused Pakistan of jeopardizing key talks with the Taliban leadership, throwing new light on the recent arrests of top Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Pakistan.
Speaking for the first time after stepping down from his post earlier this month, he revealed secret talks were underway between the UN and the Taliban leadership were sabotaged by the combined operations of American and the Pakistani intelligence services which has seen a full blown operation against Al Qaeda in southern Afghan province of Helmand and the arrests of high profile Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders, most notably Mullah Abdullah Ghani Baradar, from the Pakistani city of Karachi last month.
Eide said that meetings had already taken place in Dubai and other locations and “talks about talks” were underway since spring ’09. The process, was “picking up” after a break for the Afghan elections when the arrests took place, disrupting communication links.
If what Eide says is to be believed, it seems that the Taliban might have been willing to talk to a neutral body. The link formed by the Norwegian diplomat may yet have serious implications for both, the Pakistani and the American secret services and may actually go some way in explaining the sudden and odd nature of the arrests. Baradar was picked up in a raid in Karachi, almost without incident.
The CIA Director, Leon Panetta said this week that his agency had been enjoying greater access to information and people in Pakistan and the Pakistan Army’s intelligence wing, the Inter Services Intelligence, ISI, was becoming more tolerant and open to joint operations which had led to more drone strikes, 22 this year thus far, and 53 the previous; and the arrests of high profile targets in Karachi.
On one level, the charge seems plausible that the US and Pakistani agencies did not see fit these wanted men surrendering to the right people and were removed as part of a cover-up to keep the skeletons in the closet. On the other, chance and luck, with the timing of the operations purely coincidental. Panetta said that the arrests were made after key breakthrough in disrupting the Taliban leadership in the infamous Quetta Shura. A list of telephone numbers was recovered by one of the spies and numbers traced to various targets. These targets were subsequently picked up. One of these targets was Mullah Baradar.
While Panetta says that top prize, Osama Bin Laden is hiding deep undercover somewhere in and around the North Western Waziristan belt bordering Pakistan with Afghanistan. It seems a good general sign that progress is being made against the antagonists in the war on terror.