An old photograph of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former leader of the Quetta Shura who was detained in Karachi. Image from The New York Times.
Top US defense officials briefed Congress about the move of the Afghan Taliban’s top council, the Quetta Shura, from Quetta to Karachi. From Dawn:
“Elements of the Afghan Taliban high command are beginning to relocate from Quetta to Karachi, due in large part to drone attacks,” said Lt. Gen. John Paxton, director for operations at the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“And obviously this makes it more difficult to locate and apprehend the senior Taliban leadership, because Karachi is a major metropolitan city with over 3 million Pashtuns,” he said.
The general, however, did not explain why drone attacks would force militants in Quetta to leave because so far there have been no strikes in Balochistan.
The answer to the last question is: Because starting late last summer, US officials began openly discussing the possibility of conducting airstrikes in Quetta. The threats were sufficient to get members of the Quetta Shura to bug out to Karachi; even Mullah Omar was thought to have moved to Karachi, with a little help from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
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