Pakistani court blocks transfer of Mullah Baradar and four senior Taliban leaders to Afghanistan

One of Pakistan’s top courts has blocked the extradition of five senior Afghan Taliban commanders to Afghanistan, the United States, or any other country.

The Lahore High Court has prohibited the Pakistani government from transferring Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban’s second in command, and four other members of the Quetta Shura to foreign custody after receiving a petition from a lawyer with known links to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Over the past two months, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, aided by the CIA, has detained Mullah Baradar; Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the leader of the Peshawar Regional Military Shura; Mullah Abdul Salam, the shadow governor of Kunduz; Mullah Mir Mohammed, the shadow governor of Baghlan province; and Mohammed Younis, the former shadow governor of Zabul province, during raids throughout the country.

Today the Lahore High Court blocked the transfer of Baradar and the four other senior Afghan Taliban leaders after receiving a petition from Khalid Khawaja, a self-described humans rights activist with deep ties to the Taliban, al Qaeda, and a host of terrorist groups operating on Pakistani soil. Khawaja is a former Squadron Commander in the Pakistani Air Force who fought alongside al Qaeda and reportedly Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He has also been linked to the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

In his petition to the Lahore High Court, Khawaja said that the “the detention of the six [sic] persons mentioned above is without lawful authority, in an unlawful manner and of no legal effect.” [See Threat Matrix report, “Khawaja’s petition blocks extradition of Mullah Baradar” for the full text of his petition to the Lahore High Court]

Khawaja also stated that Bahadar and his deputies “are presumed to be innocent” and that they represent the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

“[T]hey being party in the Taliban Government and having some governing position in the Government may not be considered to be offenders,” Khawaja’s petition read.

Khawaja also launched into conspiracy theories alleging that the US desired to “to rule over the whole world” and “overcome Muslims.”

The Lahore High Court has ruled in the favor of terror groups in the past. In June of 2009, the court ordered Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its successor front group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, to be released from house arrest. In October 2009, the court said the government has no legal standing to place Jamaat-ud-Dawa on the list of banned terror groups and dismissed charges against Saeed.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa , and Saeed have been directly implicated by the US and India in carrying out the November 2009 terror assault in Mumbai, India. In that attack, more than 170 people were killed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba assault teams were able to shut down the city for more than 60 hours.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • John Abraham says:

    I am just wondering how Lahore High Court has jurisdiction over arrests made in Karachi/Sindh.
    Anyone has any clue?

  • Chris says:

    This lawyer, Khalid Khawaja has me curious. Is there a chance that he may have some U.S. ties? Where did he receive his education and military training?

  • Paul says:

    Another lie by Pakistan as to their true intentions. We should just execute them ourselves. Where is the CIA? They are baiting us with these arrests. We should be taking care of business ourselves if we REALLY want to crush the Taliban.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    A warning: you need to keep the comments clean. I am going to delete the offending comments without warning. If you want to make sophomoric remarks I suggest doing so elsewhere.

  • Grim Reaper says:

    Just give the Pakistanis 24 hour notice that if they don’t turn over these guys, the $$$billions of dollars in aid will immediately stop.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    Frankly, the Afghanistan regime and prison system has not been too good about keeping their prisoners locked up. This will be a good litmus test to reveal Pakistan’s true motives. We will see.

  • Mark Smith says:

    I can think of two reasons why Pakistan does not want to hand over the captured Taliban leaders. By the way I understand that they now hold as many as 15.
    Firstly, they do not want to risk a populist anti-American backlash
    Secondly, they are wary of what these men might divulge under interrogation about Taliban ISI cooperation.

  • hillbilly says:

    US has stoped the payment of CSF since august 2008 ( mind it its pakistans money not US money) and was asking visas for 200 auditors for a paultry sum of $2.6 billion…its realpoliticks and US. sets the rules of the game,if you are beaten in the game dont take moral high grounds and start crying and giving threats.

  • BraddS says:

    Bill, I’m very interested on your take on this. Pakistan has been playing at trying to be a democracy for over 50 years now, in between regular military takeovers. Are they ever going to get it right? At least they seem to have learned the part where lawyers are supposed to come out of the woodwork to defend supercriminals as soon as they make world headlines.

  • Charley says:

    >>US has stoped the payment of CSF since august 2008 ( mind it its pakistans money not US money)
    CSF is Pakistan’s money! Haha. ROTFL. It is a bribe we pay to make Pakistan do what it should be doing anyway. We call it Coalition Support Funds because we can stop it when the support stops. GAO feels Pakistani generals have been pocketing much of this anyway and making up bills for so called “support.”

  • khattak says:

    “US has stoped the payment of CSF since august 2008 ( mind it its pakistans money not US money) and was asking visas for 200 auditors for a paultry sum of $2.6 billion”
    US has stpped the payment to Pakistani Army for two reason. 1. Pakistan army is charging $5000 for a single trip of army trroper truck to Wazirstan as fuel charges, which is farudulant. The actual cost is close to $80. Secondly, Pakistan Army is not fighting against Taliban, it is killing civilian(90%) or those Taliban which do not take orders from Pakistan Army. By the way US has paid last friday Pakistan army US349.3 million, so please do not complain & take you dollar, be happy & invest 10% of this in any additional terrorist enterprise.

  • Zeissa says:

    The only muslim countries/communities we can rely on these days after Turkey defected back (as I foresaw) are the small ones that lean west due to strong prerogatives of survival such as Albania, Kurdistan, UAE, Dubai, etc. (and not even all of these are always good).
    I’m mentioning this to say that I do not think Pakistan can ever be trusted completely to fight against Islam becaues it was founded on Islam.
    Now some of you will protest that they will be willing to fight ‘radical’ Islam. Over and over I read this even on this site’s comment sections.
    While their methods are new and slightly extreme, even for Islam, I believe Mohammed who pioneered war crimes in his day and age would be proud… and his legacy has resounded in the cohesive unit that is Islamic politics and Islamic faith. For those who do not believe this (due to the doctrine of deception against the Kafir) I suggest going back to the last epoch where Muslims were still strong, the High Medieval Ages, where the Ottoman Empire was running strong… all the arguments of temporary peace with the Kafir and breaking peace agreements with non-Muslims were used.
    You can propagandize in Muslim societies as much as you want and even succeed or have them forget their identities in secular countries (though their cultural identity can easily turn into sleeper cells if they cleave back to their religious identity), but then they will no longer be muslims.
    How hard is this to get? Pakistan is a worse case than usual, they’ve been genociding Hinduis after wiping out Buddhism in India for a milennia, and this makes them good muslims. Allah can not come back before there are only muslims on Earth, and while the preferred method is military conquest total submission and conservative theology are mandatory!
    You Americans (and others)… treat all religions relativistically. It’s all in the humans… religions are belief systems, just like ideologies.

  • Zeissa says:

    And for the record you actually don’t need to go back to the 1500’s, the 1600’s and arguably the 1700’s will do as well, heck, even the modern era with unparalleled military Islamic weakness has plenty of examples. It’s just if you bother reading history the accepted fact in conservative and even moderate muslim communities today, that they will conquer the world, was present in all and highly involved in nearly all Sunni and Shia political communities before the complete military collapse of the Islamic world because they were so conservative.
    So, yes, while I wouldn’t be averse (and even support) to strengthening the heretical branches of Islam it is vital to understand that they are heretical. You cannot found a faith on conservatism then use liberal ideology to change aspects of it as this corrupts its very core. And the core of Islam is submission. Total Submission.

  • Zeissa says:

    That is, total submission to Allah as described by Mohammed and the political will of him and his descendants.

  • Guptan Veemboor says:

    Pakistan seems to be playing a well scripted plan. As per the wishes of US Pakistan has arrested the No.2 and other important persons of Afghan Taliban. When seven CIA people were killed US must have thought enough is enough and given a terse note to Pakistan that if Pakistan will not go after the Afghan Taliban US will have to do it itself. To demonstrate it US has started to target North Waziristan which was out of bound so far. Caught in a tight position Pakistan evolved this strategy. Arrest these important functionaries of Taliban but ensure that they will not leave Pakistan. Lahore court has come in handy. Once someone has filed a petition it can be prolonged to any number of years. It has been reported that Marja surge has been more for the consumption of the US tax payers than for any actual victory over Taliban. It has been asked why Marja, why not Kandahar the real strong base of Taliban? The Afghan army keeping Marja is very doubtful. It seems their contrubution was more in logistics while the actual fighting was done by US Marines and soldiers. On some excuse US will get out and it will be back to business as usual. Meanwhile Biradar can be used for keeping a hot conduit to Taliban. Once US go out these Quetta Shura people can be reestablished in Kabul and Pakistan getting the post of the Most Favoured Nation.

  • Mr T says:

    Pretty soon, they will be on house arrest where they can continue to command the Afghan Taliban.
    They may even be transported to house arrest by their Uncle who will let them stop at a Mosque to pray where they will somehow escape custody because the Uncle stayed in the car and didn’t see anything.
    I pity the fool but I hate being played the fool more.

  • Ibn Siqilli says:

    Muslims don’t believe “Allah (the God)” will “come back”. As for the meaning of Islam as “submission,” yes, it carries the meaning of submission to “the (One) God.”

  • Spooky says:

    If the CIA is assisting with this, I think its better that Baradar et al remain in Pakistan. Removes the headache of what to do with these guys once they are no longer of any use, which would happen if they were in our custody.
    Also, you all may say Pakistan “better do this or we’ll remove funds” and what not, but in saying that y’all ignore the political situation there. Pakistan does not like the United States. The more we boss them around, and the more they acquiese, the more unstable Zardari’s regime becomes. It was this same effect that had ousted General Musharraf (his dictatorship was benign enough to not really be about the “triumph of democracy” there or whatever). Thats why we are not sending missiles into Quetta. the US has realized that it has to keep up the act that Pakistan is in control of its own affairs, lest popular revolt set in (which may happen anyway, due to Zardari’s incompetance).
    We have to be careful. Just because they won’t give up the guy doesn’t mean its a bad thing.

  • Zeissa says:

    OK, I should’ve been more specific:
    Muslims believe that the Islamic Prophet Muhammad prophesied several events to occur just before the advent of the Day of Judgment (Yawm al-Qiyamah). Al Messiah Al Dajaal (the Antichrist) will fool people into believing that he is God and ask people to worship him. True believers will reject him but will not be able to defeat him on their own. God will then send the Messiah to earth to fight the Antichrist in the battle of Armageddon, and he will defeat the unlawful Messiah (Antichrist) and his followers.[citation needed]
    Combine this with the Sure of the Sword.
    — Btw., Kandahar is not in Helmand silly, Marjah is. Helmand should be taken first because of opium. And they’re taking Kandahar next.

  • Zeissa says:

    I agree with you Spooky, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think you’re wrong about being nice to Pakistan in the greater perspective.
    You are right that mewling to them will help buttress their regime and that not offending the sensibilities of their alternatively murderous and victimized public will help our cause… in the short run.
    You describe good tactics, but horrible strategy. If the US would toe a strong line rather than in diplomacy then its selective lines of pathetic weakness would attract far better solutions. Sure, a few evil regimes would collapse in on themselves and we’d have to go and fix them rather than let them fester, but plenty of good regimes would stay alive rather than be overrun for lack of support (Vietnam comes to mind).
    – Zeissa

  • Zeissa says:

    What I mean by pasting the above is not that their Isa (‘Jesus’) will come back, but that their day of Judgement where Allah is present for said judgment and Paradise on Earth (before and after) can not come before a military victory.

  • Guptan Veemboor says:

    I would like to add a post script to what I wrote just now in this column. If Pakistan was serious of catching Quetta Shura functionaries, ISI could have done the job and handed over the catch to CIA for further action without anyone getting the wiser. On the other hand it was done with measured leak to get a good publicity but with no special advantage as far as US is concerned. Now the court has barred from questioning them.

  • Hanging on every word says:

    Not quite sure how any court views Afghanistan as the foreign country since the people in question are all Afghans. Golly, gee-whiz. Another bald-faced sham in Pakistan? Who’da thunk it.
    Doesn’t ever seem to matter which court has jurisdiction or authority. Apparently in Pakistan, it could have been the Lord High Potscrubber saying no to them being extradited to their own country.

  • Hanging on every word says:

    I could believe more than a few Pakistanis are giving this news the facepalm. The story linked in Bill R’s report must have been typed with some chagrin. Looks like Dawn wanted to make sure any who could or would read it, that these guys are all AFGHANS, mentioning it four times in less than 100 words. Almost comic.

  • FredP says:

    Zeissa, very strong points very well stated.
    The implication is that moderate Muslims can always be labeled as Kafir by the true believers.
    Zeissa’s point is that implicit in the West’s current strategy is that the Muslim world will go through a reformation that will make Islam more compatible with democracy. It will take much more than this.
    This is why the Iraq is such a gamble. To me the odds look long but it beats the alternative.

  • Agha H Amin says:

    traditionally the pakistani judiciary has been remote controlled by pakistans political or military establishment except a short spell of friction when the present pakistani CJ in an act of sheer self preservation,having been sacked fought back.
    now the poor man in question.he indeed was taliban number two , but my information indicates had been fired and sidelined from Taliban Inc some months ago.the poor soul was caught and brought under control.may be he is reconverted and re islamised.
    the decision of the court was based on petition of ex ISI officer khalid khwaja.
    this is in sharp contradiction with how pakistani courts were behaving in musharraf regime , never objecting to any of the dog catching operations that , cheap social climber was doing for USA.
    its all very farcial and ironical.
    contradictions par excellence

  • Martin Chuzzlewit says:

    Just visited the Long War Journal for the first time, though I have been listening to Mr. Roggio on the John Batchelor radio show podcasts for the past two months.
    Great site and great work!!
    Interesting commentary by the very well informed readers who post here.
    What a treat!
    Sorry to interrupt your thread.

  • Rhyno327 says:

    the US lets that swine Khawaja roam free, then he gets those talibs to stay? we will see wat the intentions of the PAK gov., or ISI are…Khawaja should be snatched, poof, gone. They get away with MURDER. No more.

  • badil says:

    did USA give black water murderers in Iraq to Iraqi govt for trial. They killed Iraqi people so they should be handed over to Iraqi govt

  • ArneFufkin says:

    The entire Paki/Afghan dynamic is fascinating. I know Bill Roggio is vigilant not to editorialize in his reporting, but I am interested in his take and the analysis of either he or the informed contributors here going forward: Is this a good or bad development for our OEF (and larger) mission????

  • Neo says:

    I keep reading comments that assume that the Pakistani state, army, and public are of one mind on this. It has been obvious from the beginning that the internal Pakistani strife over this, is every bit as intense as the external war. The Pakistani politic is very divided over this. I stated long ago that the Pakistani’s have no love for the United States. That includes those Pakistani’s that ally themselves with us. They ally themselves because they must to survive. Money is not the primary motivation either even though it is a fundamental necessity to run the Pakistani government. A sizable segment of Pakistani society recognizes that the Taliban movement is and a fundamental threat to the very existence of Pakistani society and is incompatible with all real forms of government, society, and culture.
    I doubt that this was strictly a capture for cash deal, although I wouldn’t be surprised if a great deal of cash got involved. Part of the Taliban is directly at war with the Pakistani state and government and the other part is increasingly becoming a liability. It has to be obvious to the Pakistani government that the old relationship with the Taliban is one way, with the benefit being strictly for the Taliban. I suspect being used and spat upon like a bunch of old whores gets a little tiresome for people who work alongside the Taliban. I wouldn’t be at all surprise if some of the powers that be inside the Pakistani establishment finally got fed up and ordered a round up.
    The problem is the upper levels of the Pakistani judiciary are still allied with the Taliban. We already knew that because they had already released Taliban leaders that where known to be directing conflict against the Pakistani government in Swat, Dir and Bajaur. For a while two years ago the reinstatement of the Pakistani judiciary was useful to oust the Musharaff government. At the time it was something both the Islamists and Democratic forces could agree on. Because of this the judiciary still enjoys fairly broad and unchallengeable support. At least so far.
    The Pakistani legal community has not yet been targeted by the Taliban. Why would they? So far they have been either useful or irrelevant. The legal establishment doesn’t carry weapons and doesn’t dare sue the Taliban for damages. When the time comes those lawyers that are useful to the Taliban will be integrated, and the rest can be liquidated.

  • Vedat The Turk says:

    It’s beginning to look more and more as if all of the primary parties involved in the conflict (US, Taliban, Afghan and Paks) have now entered into peace talks. It’s well known that Mullah Baradar was in direct discussions with Kabul via the Saudis. Also the conservative Pasthtun members of Afghan Parliament have begun to openly discuss with their opponents about finding a solution to the War – a first for this Talib affiliated group! For obvious reasons the US and Pakistan have stayed in the background. That is until Pakistan took possession of Mullah Baradar and other members of the Quetta Shura. Why they did this, has been hotly debated in the Muslim press. However it is becoming apparent that Pakistan clearly wants a greater say in the settlement talks.
    The reason that they are unlikely to hand the Taliban leadership over to Afghanistan is that it would decrease their influence within the group. Better to keep him and use it as a confidence building measure within the rank and file Taliban. Moreover, what would handing him over to the Afghans achieve? If the point is to the settle this horrible war, then it’s better that negotiation happen from a distance with both sides treated equally. Without such equality any agreement would lack any legitimacy among the Afghan populace.
    Yes, Mullah Baradar will probably be held in a comfortable safe house and provided communications with his Talib comrades. This may seem offensive to some but it’s very normal in a conflict for such high-ranking leaders to be provided such privileges. Especially if peace negotiation are involved. Remember he has to be able to discuss the terms of the settlement with his organization to get them to agree.
    My strong conviction is that Mullah Baradar was never really “captured”

  • davidp says:

    It sounds like the court has not finished hearing the application. Issuing an injunction to not move the prisoners out of the country is a standard court procedure (preventing increase in the harm in case it rules in favor of the petitioner). It does not mean the court supports the application – it’s just due legal process.
    On the other hand, the petition seems legally valid to me – Pakistan has British laws on the books requiring due process, habeas corpus, and charging people in front of judges. They also have a habit of arresting people, ignoring all those laws. Then they don’t bother to put together a reasonable court case against the arrested and the person gets released by the high court. This sometimes looks to me like complicity by the administration – we’ll look like we’re doing something, but just wait a month or two and you’ll get out and we’ll ‘blame’ the courts, when in fact it’s the security forces’ fault.
    Rule of law is a good thing, although you need to pass appropriate laws to allow emergency powers etc.

  • Neo says:

    Our skepticism is driven by the history of the Pakistani high court, which has a history of legitimizing Islamic fighters and releasing leadership of groups taking part in armed action against the Pakistani government. Perhaps you do not find it within the legal prerogative of the state to decide which armed groups will operate within and from the boundaries of that state.
    Your right about one thing, the Pakistani state does not have much of a history of following the rule of law. That makes is difficult to evoke special war time powers. As a consequence the Pakistani public is cynical about the abuse of power. On the other hand, the midst of a civil war is a funny time to be a stickler about due process and personal liberties, especially when you are dealing with known members of armed groups who retain no official legal standing.
    There is a similar situation in United States history at the beginning of the Civil War. Very early in the war right after Lincoln took office the Federal government had difficulty getting troops to the capitol because organized gangs of armed southern sympathizers blocking federal troops from reaching the capitol. To control the situation Lincoln suspended the protections of the constitution for the duration of the war. Massed Federal troops fired on mobs in the middle of New York and Baltimore. Uncooperative politicians, lawyers, and judges were incarcerated. In many cases courts and state government offices were physically occupied by federal troops.
    I’m not suggesting that Lincoln’s example would be a good idea for Pakistan right now. In this instance such blatant action would be very divisive and undesirable. What many civil libertarians don’t recognize is that the state has an obligation to maintain order and protect citizens. A state must also exercise a monopoly on the use of armed force within its boundaries. That includes the right to detain or attack any informal or unauthorized armed groups, their leaders, and collaborators.

  • Abheek says:

    Is there a mean s of transferring such cases to Internation Court of Justice … Pakis have been playing games with us Indians too over 26/11 culprits and now this. … or other way is to do a √≥ut of court settlement'(couple of drone attacks at the appropriate locations)

  • sanjith menon says:

    wow! pakistani`s sure have the nerve to take america for a ride. poor uncle sam isnt same as before. if pakistan can take them for a ride, then what about china?

  • Rookie says:

    I said a couple of weeks ago when this arrest bonanza started in Pakistan that in my opinion ISI is just protecting it’s assets.
    The killing of CIA officers saw an increase in drone attacks, so what better protection for Pakistani-funded Taliban than keeping them in custody. When times come, they will escape from prison or be pardoned because they will promise to “behave” – something similar with our European/US legal system lately, I might add.
    Also ISI wants probably to get rid of foreign al-Qaeda in Pakistan – after all, 9/11 is what ended their dear Taliban project in Afghanistan – so maybe they will use fresh information to provide US with some targets.
    About Pakistani judges – Mukhtar Mai gang-rape case by a tribal council is enough to understand that most of the judges there are pro-sharia.
    When Pakistan justice will hang 1 Taliban or Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist for his crimes, it will be a cold day in hell.

  • Hanging on every word says:

    @ Badil

  • John says:

    What line the govt is going to take in the court, might give us some idea of what is really happening there.
    The whole negotiation shenanigans might give US an exit strategy, but will make a nuclear war in SouthAsia lot more probable. The idle jihadis have to go somewhere and Kashmir is close by. Even assuming some fraction/faction of taliban can be induced to switch sides, the afghan state is too weak to impose order & there will always be jihad training grounds. US needs to reserve the right to conduct the drone strikes will continue for next 5-10 years, irrespective of them leaving/not leaving.

  • James says:

    I’ve said over and over again that we would have been much better off had we approached this War on Terror from the India side of the equation, instead of Pakistan (with reference to AQ and the Taliban operating in the region).
    It’s long overdue the need for US to form a strategic alliance with India in this matter.
    Nixon did this very effectively during the Cold War by playing “both sides of the table,” in courting both the Chinese and the Soviets during detente.
    At the very least, we may need to collate our intelligence assets with India’s (in addition to Israel) by maybe establishing a special liaison.
    Such an alliance of intel could form an “Axis of Good,” (consisting of US, India, and Israel).
    By no means am I suggesting that we should try to incite a war between India and Pakistan (or even threaten to). But, we do need to “hedge our bets” and as it is said in baseball “keep all the bases covered.” You should never put all your eggs in one basket.
    The above is just my “two cents” on the situation.

  • Vedat The Turk says:

    I agree with James that an approach to the War on Terror from the India perspective would be far more effective. The problem with that approach however is that you draw Pakistan closer into its ties with China and all of a sudden you have the US and China fighting a poroxy conflict through the India / Pak.
    Instead of containing the conflict such an approach has seriuos potential to spill over into other fronts. Having said this I think that if Pakistan does not get onboard within the next 12-15 months then the US will have no other choice but to form such an alliance.


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