Pakistan's ulterior motives behind top Taliban strategist's arrest

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Peshawar, Feb. 21 (ANI): While the US has lauded the capture of top Taliban strategist Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi as a "game- changer", Pakistan's intentions and timing behind the arrest have come under questions.

This was the first time Pakistan had acted against the Taliban leadership, and Afghans involved in western-backed attempts to start talks with the Taliban to end the war were furious, warning that the arrest might have ruined chances of negotiations.

Baradar had participated in meetings, including one in Saudi Arabia with Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali.

"Mullah Baradar was independently in contact with the Afghan government to find a way for reconciliation and the Pakistanis knew that from their secret agents," The Timesuoted a close aide to Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, as saying.

Just a few days before the arrest, Pakistan had publicly stated it needed a role in any peace negotiations.

But some experts believe that Pakistan's military has little interest in peace in Afghanistan because then they would no longer be needed by the US and the dollars would dry up.

"The timing of this arrest was very peculiar. The fact he was one of the key Taliban leaders advocating talks suggests the Pakistanis either want more control or to sabotage the process altogether," said Barmak Pazhwak, a senior official for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the United States Institute of Peace, a think tank.

According to experts, Islamabad's motive may be financial. Pakistan is bankrupt and the US had blocked 1.3 billion dollars of aid because of a dispute over a refusal to grant visas to American security officials.

However, the arrest has made one thing crystal clear: Pakistan can no longer claim the Taliban leadership is not in its country. (ANI)

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