…The refusal of Pakistani intelligence to turn over Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and as many as six other top Taliban figures to the United States or the Afghan government has dealt a serious blow to the Barack Obama administration’s hopes for Pakistani cooperation in weakening the Taliban.
It has left little doubt in the minds of US officials that the Pakistani military intends to keep physical custody of the Taliban detainees in order to exert influence on both the pace of peace negotiations in Afghanistan and the ultimate terms of a settlement.
…The Obama administration had been counting on Pakistan to end its policy of providing safe haven for Afghan Taliban leaders and fighters because, without such a decision, US officials admit there is little or no possibility of seriously weakening the Taliban.
That assumption impelled Obama to write a letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari last November, warning bluntly that Pakistan’s support for the Taliban would no longer be tolerated, the Washington Post reported on February 19.
The Pakistani government adjusted to the latest US pressure on its Taliban policy by allowing the Central Intelligence Agency to expand its intelligence operations in Pakistan aimed at intercepting Taliban and al-Qaeda messages to Karachi. It also agreed to joint operations with the CIA to find high-level Taliban operatives.
But it is now clear that the increased intelligence cooperation with the CIA did not mean Pakistan had abandoned its broader strategy of relying on the Taliban as the best guarantee of Pakistani influence in Afghanistan.
2010-03-02 16:21:24 UTC