ISLAMABAD / KABUL: Former Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Baradar, who had been released on September 21, is being held under virtual house arrest by his Pakistani handlers who watch his movements and listen to his phone calls, an arrangement likely to undermine his role as a peacemaker.
One Pakistani intelligence source with direct knowledge of Baradar’s movements said he had reached out to several Taliban figures – at the request of his minders.
“Baradar has been instructed by security personnel guarding him to make calls to try to persuade the Taliban to bring an end to the bloodshed and enter into meaningful dialogue,” he said. The official said a laptop and a satellite telephone confiscated from Baradar during his arrest in 2010 had been returned and that a group of 10 security men kept an eye on him at the house where Baradar occupied the first floor.
Pakistan made the announcement of his release just before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif flew to the United States in what was seen by many as Islamabad emphasising its readiness to help.
Baradar himself has not publicly commented on the events and it is unclear how committed he is to embark on a peace mission.
Another Pakistani intelligence official privy to Baradar’s movements told Reuters in Islamabad that he had made several phone calls to Taliban members.
“He has spoken to his colleagues in Afghanistan, Turkey and the United States and discussed his role in the peace process,” the official said.
Pakistani officials would not comment on the nature of Baradar’s activities. “We have no confirmation of whom he is talking to,” said the Pakistani foreign Ministry spokesman. “Nevertheless, now that his detention has ended, we hope he will play a role to bring about peace and stability in Afghanistan.”