Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has branded as “propaganda” last night’s explosive report that the Inter-Services Intelligence agency has, along with CIA operatives, captured Mullah Baradar. From Dawn:
“We are verifying all those we have arrested. If there is any big target, I will show the nation,” Malik said.
“If the New York Times gives information, it is not a divine truth, it can be wrong. We have joint intelligence sharing and no joint investigation, nor joint raids,” Malik added.
“We are a sovereign state and hence will not allow anybody to come and do any operation. And we will not allow that. So this (report) is propaganda,” he added.
Note that Malik didn’t deny the report that Baradar was arrested; he merely is saying it hasn’t been verified. In fact, it appears the real issue he is addressing is CIA participation in covert activities against the Taliban.
But his arrest also raises some interesting questions. The Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long been accused of aiding/sheltering the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistani government and military have long denied that the Taliban’s top leadership (called the Quetta Shura for the Pakistani city where it was based) is operating in Pakistan. And the government denied rumors the Quetta Shura relocated to Karachi. Then, lo and behold, Baradar is arrested in Karachi. Why was Baradar arrested now? Is this a signal that the Pakistani military is dropping its support for the Quetta Shura? If not, why haven’t the rest of the senior Taliban leaders been rounded up?
Add to that list the touchy issue of CIA involvement in Pakistan.
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