The Taliban’s supreme commander in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was captured in Pakistan earlier this year. He was the highest ranking Taliban commander ever arrested. But instead of his extradition to Afghanistan or hand-over to the U.S., he was kept in a cozy house in Islamabad.
On Saturday, he was freed.
Yes, the man second in command only to Mullah Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Taliban, has reportedly been released and no one knows where he went. (The smart bet is he rejoined his buddies in the fight against NATO and the Afghan government.)
Apparently, his release has the backing of the Obama administration, the reason being the ongoing “talks” between the Taliban and the Afghan government. This is not the first time the Afghan government has claimed it has been holding talks with the Taliban. For years, President Hamid Karzai’s government has been attempting to negotiate with the Taliban. But every single time, a few headlines are made out of how he’s reaching out to them and how they’re talking back, then, nothing.
It’s easy to lose count of the number of times the Taliban have held talks with the Afghan government and at the same time unleashed terror all over the country. But these talks, according Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, are just preliminary and cannot even be considered “negotiations,” the Associated Press reports.
Furthermore, the current talks are being touted as attacks in Afghanistan continue. During the parliamentary elections of last month, there were hundreds of Taliban attacks. Taliban allies have been burning Coalition supply trucks across the border in Pakistan the past few days as the border remains sealed and fuel trucks are backed up for miles. NATO soldiers are being killed and injured on a weekly basis in the bloodiest year of the war. To top it off, there is no formal indication from the Taliban that they are in any kind of negotiations. And here we are releasing their top commander so that his captivity won’t disrupt the “talks.”
These “talks” apparently are so far only confined to the imagination of the Afghan government and the trust that Gen. Petraeus has in their word. The Associated Press boldly asserts in a piece published on Saturday that,
In Afghanistan, Taliban leaders have told followers that there are no official peace talks with the U.S.-backed Afghan government, an apparent move to persuade their rank- and-file to stay in the fight.
Now if the Taliban were on the losing side of the fight, it would be understandable. But they’re not. They’ve taken over most of the countryside in the south and the east after losing all of the country in 2001. They’ve stepped up their attacks on NATO and its allies. The Afghan government has lost control over huge swaths of the country and is increasingly viewed as weak and on the brink of collapse. NATO has been forced to add more troops to the country to win back areas it has lost, or has won back and lost again. All signs show that the Taliban are winning.