Afghanistan: Baradar Was Talking to Karzai

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Afghanistan: Baradar Was Talking to Karzai

Postby RYP » Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:18 pm

Hamid Karzai held secret talks with Mullah Baradar in Afghanistan
The Taliban's chief military commander was in secret talks with Hamid Karzai's family just weeks before his arrest by Pakistan intelligence officers, it has been claimed.

By Dean Nelson in Delhi and Ben Farmer in Kabul
Published: 6:38PM GMT 16 Mar 2010


The Afghan president was furious about the seizure of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi last month as the men had been negotiating, according to his aides.
Diplomats have claimed at least one of Mr Karzai's brothers held talks with the Taliban's number two at a private house near Kandahar two months ago.

The meeting at a residence in Spin Boldak is believed to have included discussion on the lucrative opium and heroin trade in southern Afghanistan. Sources told The Daily Telegraph that the discussions also covered the positions of Mullah Baradar and Mr Karzai in the Taliban and government.
A spokesman for the Afghan president denied there had been direct talks between the government and Mullah Baradar, but would not comment on indirect talks. The Karzai brothers were unavailable for comment.

The claim came as Mr Karzai prepared to announce a grand tribal peace council, or jirga in the first week of May which he claims will kick start a reconciliation drive with Afghanistan's insurgents.
Abdul Ali Shamsi, security adviser to the governor of Helmand province, said: "The government has been negotiating with Mullah Baradar, who took an offer to the Taliban [ruling council]."
Another aide said the arrest, made with help from US intelligence officers, had made Mr Karzai "very angry".

The discussions between the two parties, who are members the Popalzai tribe, hinged on business interests rather than a political peace deal, one analyst in Kabul said.
Ahmad Wali Karzai, head of Kandahar's provincial council, has strongly denied repeated allegations he is involved in the Afghan drug trade. The analyst said: "Baradar controls a big stake in the drugs trade in Kandahar. It's a peace deal in a sense, reducing the conflict between the government and the Taliban, according to private interests."

Mullah Baradar's arrest provoked suspicions he was seized at the behest of Pakistan intelligence officers opposed to a deal. It has also been alleged he was offered up to the authorities by fellow members of the ruling Quetta shura angered by his willingness to negotiate.

Matt Waldman, a fellow at the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy in Harvard, said: "It seems these arrests were intended to ensure elements inside Pakistan have continuing influence or control over any talks." Reconciliation with Taliban leaders and plans to coax away their foot soldiers were part of rare hour-long phone discussion between Mr Karzai and Barack Obama on Monday evening.
Wahid Omar, spokesman for Mr Karzai, said the peace jirga had been scheduled for May 1 or 2. One Western diplomat said he remained sceptical of its chances of success. He said: "The three day jirga will be a PR stunt and will not have anyone from the Taliban. Peace talks are not done in this way."
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