Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, captured earlier this month, was in charge of day-to-day operations of the Taliban’s leadership council. He’s said to be providing useful information to the Pakistanis, who are offering valuable Taliban intelligence to U.S. representatives, sources have told the Associated Press.
It is not incorrect to characterize Baradar’s arrest as a probable turning point in the Taliban’s ability to plan acts of terror against U.S. soldiers and those who oppose the group’s presence. Baradar, a Taliban founding member, represents the most important figure captured during America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan.
Likewise, it is not incorrect for Washington to expect more cooperation and proactive military action from Pakistan. That’s what the White House and Pentagon have long sought — concerted, well-planned Pakistani efforts against Taliban strongholds near the Afghan border.
The Baradar arrest is proof that Pakistan can make a difference in the United States’ battles against the Taliban.
As The New York Times explained in a Wednesday story, Pakistan now wields improved leverage in any discussions about a negotiated peace in Afghanistan. Islamabad’s position in the U.S.’s eyes has inched forward — for now.
As long as the United States was bearing most of the war’s brunt — providing financing, most of the military might and many of its casualties — the United States held indisputable power to handle the war, and its eventual end, as the main power broker in the region.
Now, with Baradar’s capture and Pakistan’s other recent collaborations with the U.S. military, that nation can say its opinion and its interests should be considered.
The intertwined relationships between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Taliban are couched in geopolitics, ethnic and religious tensions and centuries of border rivalries. War in that part of the world requires deep understanding and informed leadership. That’s even more reason why the United States needs more Pakistani successes like the one that produced Baradar’s arrest.
Weakening the Taliban is good for all — regardless of who gets credit.