Pakistani-U.S. Raid Nabs Mullah Baradar: Kayani Doctrine in Full Effect

The New York Times reveals this evening that the Afghan Taliban’s second-in-command, Mullah Baradar, was arrested in Karachi on Thursday in a joint raid by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.  The move is clear demonstration that the Pakistan Army, under the command of Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, has a more flexible approach toward Afghanistan, guided by the realization that it has permanent interests, not permanent allies in its neighbor to the northwest.

In a recent briefing to foreign correspondents, Kayani said that Pakistan seeks a friendly government, stability, and ”strategic depth” (meaning, at the very least, that Kabul is not allied with New Delhi) in Afghanistan.  The Pakistan Army is willing to play by more conventional rules and begin to engage so-called good actors to secure these goals in Afghanistan.  Toward this, Kayani offered to train the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.  Having denied India a strategic pivot into Central Asia and northwestern/western Pakistan via Afghanistan (note India’s minimal role in the London talks and absence from the Istanbul talks), the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment feels more secure to broaden its ties in Afghanistan and engage the current Afghan leadership.

In addition to having been provided an opportunity to diversify its contacts in Afghanistan, the Pakistan Army likely also feels a need to do so.  In my previous post, I speculated that Kayani’s overtures to the Karzai government possibly contained the following “implicit message” to the Afghan Taliban: “you are not our only option, so don’t take us for granted.”  And so the arrest of Baradar is perhaps part of an attempt by the Pakistan Army to induce behavioral change on the part of the Afghan Taliban, and particularly its obstinate leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar.  These desired changes likely include: giving up maximalist goals, such as the re-establishment of an emirate; and clear movement toward the bargaining table with Karzai and away from al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.  And equally important, as Afghans have engaged in a multitude of secret peace talks in the region, the Pakistan Army would like to ensure that it, to the exclusion of India, is part of the glue that holds together any power sharing arrangement in Kabul.  In other words, it doesn’t want the Afghans to make their own peace and shut Pakistan out of the process.  If Pakistan were excluded, then what was the trouble of the past eight years for?

The arrest of Baradar helps bring U.S. and Pakistan policy toward Afghanistan in closer alignment.  The Pakistan Army is willing to work with Afghan moderates and, at the same time, retains significant leverage over the country’s insurgents.  It has the capacity and willingness to engage, if not manage, a broad spectrum of Afghanistan’s major Pashtun actors — both “good” and “bad.”  One would imagine that Pakistani diplomatic, military, and political officials are also engaging Afghan Tajiks and Uzbeks, particularly ex-mujahideen.

With its contacts, geographic location, and new-found “responsible” approach, it’s Pakistan — not Iran, India, or Russia — that is positioned to play the role of stability guarantor in a post-American Afghanistan, especially as it pertains to U.S. interests.  Pakistan has an opportunity to come in from the cold and project its regional influence through more conventional and “legitimate” means.  In doing so, it can secure its interests and the respect and trust of others, while also containing the Taliban contagion infesting its border areas with Afghanistan.

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Category: Afghan Taliban, Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations, Mullah Baradar, U.S.-Pakistan Relations


18 Responses

  1. Jim Pivonka says:

    There can be no “post-American Afghanistan” so long as Pakistan is committed to “strategic depth” there based on subversion of the Afghan government; to “assymetric warfare” based on utilization of radical fundamentalist terror groups as agents of the Pakistan state’s ambitions; and to a Zia ul Haq inspired vision of Pakistan itself, with suppression of ethnic and religious minorities (anti Sufi & Shia violence tolerated) and police state enforcement of social uniformity (Baluchistan’s Bugti, etc.)

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by kursed: RT @pakistanpolicy He puts it across far more eloquently @SteveHynd My blog post on Baradar arrest: http://tinyurl.com/yfjbop6

  3. [...] as Arif Rafiq of the Pakistan Policy blog has argued, Mr Baradar could have been sacrificed by General Kayani as a signal to Mullah Omar—that the [...]

  4. Riaz Haq says:

    The Afghan society is deeply divided along ethnic lines. Almost all of the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, part of the Northern Alliance, currently control Kabul along with a small Pashtun urban elite. The NA and its Pashtun allies have always been and continue to be friendly with India (and Russia and Iran) and oppose Pakistani influence in Afghanistan.

    The rural Pashtuns, hated by NA and their urban Pashtun allies, have been friendly with Pakistan. The strongest rural Pashtun force is the Taliban, who are the key to peace in the region. Pakistan has to maintain close ties with them and use its influence to bring the war to end on terms favorable to Pakistan.


  5. [...] Arif Rafiq: In my previous post, I speculated that Kayani’s overtures to the Karzai government possibly [...]

  6. Ali Azizi says:

    If Kiyani can pull this off as you describe, he’ll prove himself to be a master chess player.

  7. Guptan Veemboor says:

    In this analysis it is told that Pakistan is doing a mild arm-twisting of Taliban.Is it necessary that Taliban should agree. To what extant is Afghan Taliban dependant on Pakistan? If it is fully dependant then this is Pakistan’s proxy war. It cannot be. Even if Pakistan withdraws its support the Afghan Taliban can carry on. Even if Bardar has been captured, Taliban will replace him with someone else which has happened ealier also. Also Taliban is not a very cohesive force. It is a lose coalition of many commanders with their forces. Now since there is a common enemy that is US they are all together. Even if one of the factions make a deal with US/Pakistan it is not necessary that all others will fall in line. Stability will evade Afghanistan. So will Pakistan take the risk of alienating its strategic depths. In all probability the capture drama is a smoke screen for arranging a talk between US and Mulla Omar so that US can get out of Afghanistan without much loss of face.

  8. Varun says:

    Very intelligent answer (informed speculation?) to a difficult question.

    But does Pakistan really see the Americans as able to change the Afghan order? Only that would explain why they care enough to engage more moderate elements and induce behavioral change.

  9. [...] as Arif Rafiq of the Pakistan Policy blog has argued, Mr Baradar could have been sacrificed by General Kayani as a signal to Mullah Omar—that the [...]

  10. [...] Rafiq, over at the Pakistan Policy blog, (via Five Rupees), further noted, “And equally important, as Afghans have engaged in a multitude of secret peace talks in the [...]

  11. [...] a Pakistani vassal state, and has also apparently made it clear to the Taliban it is now willing to shop around for allies in the [...]

  12. Zameer Khan says:

    What Kayani doctrine? He is playing a double game as well. Look below in a blog about pakistan


  13. Amna Zaman says:

    The job does not really end once you have caught these terrorists and forced them out of the battle field. It is important to make the maxium out of the alive onces. Brain wash them again and make them talk to other militants so thay we can help all of them to quit this path and act as assets to the country! Is a tough task but not impossible for sure.

  14. basharat says:

    Whatever the policy Pakistan likes to adopt towards its affairs about Afghanistan should have been disclosed to the press by some authorised Government spokesperson .The Army Chief had , in fact, encroached into the domain of the Government , the attitude and practice should cease . All the organs and departments should limit their acts within their defined bundaries of authority.
    The Army is a strong and honourable entity nevertheless, it is subordinate to the Government , this constitutional requisites, it is better, should be visible in all actions utterances . Defying of the Constitutions in the past, has caused irreparable loss to the Country . Basharat.

  15. [...] Medina Movement, A Scary Look (Submitted by: Rhymes With Right) * The Pakistan Policy Blog – Pakistani-U.S. Raid Nabs Mullah Baradar: Kayani Doctrine in Full Effect (Submitted by: The Glittering Eye) * Legal Insurrection – More Rights for Terrorists Mean [...]

  16. There are voices that claim to speak for Pakistan – voices of division, fear, and extremism. They do not speak for us, the people of Pakistan. Through the “Azm-e-Alishan” campaign we affirm amongst ourselves – and send a message to the world – that we will not be defined by violence, nor will we give in to it. We are diverse but we are bound together as a single people and nation and we will define our future together.
    Log on to http:/www.azmealishan.com register your AZM and make your pledge for a better Pakistan. Catch updates on http://twitter.com/azmealishan

  17. I agree with this article.Infact every policy towards afghanistan should have been disclosed.

  18. a s ahmed says:

    On Sunday, June 13, The Sunday Times of London ran a long article under the heading: Pakistan puppet masters guide the Taliban killers. It was based on a new report by the London School of Economics according to which Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency is providing extensive funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The report cites concrete evidence suggesting that support for the Taliban is the “official policy” of the ISI, which not only trains and funds the Afghan insurgents, but is officially represented on the their leadership council.

    On February 28, 2010, DNW 434 exposed a shady Pakistan intrigue behind the handover to the Americans of Abdul Ghani Baradar, whom they represented as Mullah Omar’s first lieutenant the lost of whom would seriously impair Taliban’s fighting ability – so they claimed
    It was in fact an ISI trick. Baradar was no longer important to the Taliban and his handover no great loss because he had turned coat and was looking for an opening for peace talks with the Americans. The ISI needed to get rid of him before he succeeded to keep the Afghan War on the boil, because as long as it lasts, both the Taliban and the Americans will be dependent on Islamabad and the Pakistanis will carry on pulling wires and playing one side against the other.

    Pakistan is ruled by powerful ISI.Zardari is their puppet, he recently secretly met with Taliban prisoners offering them support and releasing some Taliban leaders. ISI ironically poses existential threat to Pakistan in the long run. It has converted Jinnah’s Pakistan into a Jihadi terrorist state which will implode from within, just like it was responsible for Bangladesh creation and Kargil defeat..

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Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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