Connecting Regions of Asia.

Baradar Hostage, Akhundzada’s Fate Unknown

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Afghanistan’s deputy PM  Mullah Baradar is under detention at Kandahar , where he was removed by Taliban hardliners after a clash with the Haqqanis during discussions to form government earlier this month.

“They are holding him hostage at a mosque in Kandahar , where commandos from Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG) stand guard round the clock. Some of his family members are held hostage at home in Kabul ,” said a top Baradar aide, obviously unwilling to be identified .  

The aide was by Baradar’s side when he was attacked physically by Khalil ur Rehman Haqqani during the discussions over government formation . He is now in hiding somewhere in Kabul .

“Khalil launched an unprovoked attack on my boss (Baradar) when he made two suggestions. One, to fly the national flag of Afghanistan alongside the Taliban flag . Two, ensure enough minority representation in the national interim government. Baradar also suggested elections for forming a permanent government after tweaking the Afghan constitution and model it after Iran, the top aide said.

“Khalil accused Baradar of being an agent of US, India and Iran . His fisticuff took Baradar by surprise and guards of both leaders were involved in a brief shootout . Atleast six were killed on both sides and many were injured,” the top aide said. 

He said Pakistani commandos dressed in Taliban’s trademark Afghan salwarkameez “hijacked” Baradar and drove him to Kandahar where he is held in a mosque with minor injuries.

“The video of Baradar delivering an ‘all is well’ kind of message was an ISI brainchild, extracted by the SSG commandos under duress,” the aide said. 

He said Baradar was taken to Kandahar on the plea of meeting the Taliban spiritual supremo  Haibatullah Akhundzada  but he clarified to Easternlink  :” To the best of my knowledge , that meeting has not happened. Akhundzada’s whereabout are not known.”

That seems to have fuelled rumours of his possible death.  

The aide said Baradar was just allowed to meet some tribal elders to quell rumours of his death that had shaken many within the Taliban or those close to it .

“But moment Baradar seemed like organising the support of the elders in his favour, the Pakistani commandos shove him back to captivity in the old mosque in central Kandahar, ” the aide said.

Baradar’s removal allowed the Pakistan ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed dictate terms in government formation and allocating the crucial portfolio to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the UN designated terrorist with the highest bounty on his head,  was nothing short of a coup.  

Haqqani has since praised ” suicide bombers” during his select media interactions, belying all the earlier Taliban promises of not aiding terror activity on Afghan soil.  He is also spearheading an intensive search for Afghan special forces and NDS’ intelligence staffers , which the Taliban and Pakistan mark as a major threat.

Khalil ur Rahman Haqqani has openly supported the cause of global jihad. The support for global jihad and praise for suicide bombers has prompted some Afghanistan watchers to question the role of Taliban hardliners behind the Kabul airport explosions at the behest of ISI , which was now trying to spin a web around the IS Khorasan for ultimately using it for terror strikes in Kashmir.

” Hardliners like the Haqqani network may need the facade of something like the ISK to save the Taliban from accusations of backing terror elsewhere and the ISI gets its fig leaf to perpetuate mischief,” the Baradar aide told Easternlink.

Baradar was held in a Pakistani jail from 2010 to 2018 , eight long years. It is under US pressure through Qatar that he was finally released by Pakistan. Among the Taliban, he is the Afghan nationalist who is clearly unwilling to accept Pakistani domination. It is learnt he opposes the Durand line and Pakistan’s plans to fence it because that will prevent free movement of Pashtuns on either side of the border.

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