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Yusufzai: Taliban is so strong now they have probably already replaced Baradar

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PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington, and now joining us from Peshawar, Pakistan, is Rahimullah Yusufzai. He’s a leading Pakistani journalist and senior editor and bureau chief for the News International in Peshawar. He’s also one of the handful of journalists who’s interviewed Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban. Thanks very much for joining us, Rahimullah.


JAY: Just quickly tell us a bit about the arrest of Mullah Baradar and what the significance of this is.

YUSUFZAI: This man, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was a military commander when Taliban was in power, and he’s from the same area, Oruzgan province, as the Taliban leader’s Mullah Omar. They have been friends and allies, and he was one of the founders of the Taliban movement, also. In fact, his importance grew when the Taliban lost power, because then he became the deputy leader of Taliban movement. There were two deputies to Mullah Omar in the movement. One was Mullah Baradar; the other one is Mullah Obaidullah. So I think he’s fairly important, not only as a link between Mullah Omar and the shura, or leadership council, and also a link between the shura and the field commanders who are doing the fighting. So this man was really a very crucial link between all these different segments of Taliban movement. Now that he has been captured�and Pakistan army today finally announced that it indeed he has been captured in a joint raid in Pakistan, in Karachi�I think this is going to demoralize the Taliban fighters, at least temporarily. It will also disrupt their activities and the coordination between various layers of Taliban movement. But this would be temporary, I believe that they will already have a replacement for Mullah Baradar, and I don’t think it will, in the long run, impact on the ability of Taliban to continue fighting the US forces in Afghanistan.

JAY: Many observers believe that the Pakistani army, the ISI, they couldn’t make these arrests in the past. So if you agree with that, why now? Why would the Pakistan ISI move now?

YUSUFZAI: I think that the Americans obliged the Pakistanis by killing two very important Pakistani Taliban commanders, Baitullah Mehsud, and also possibly Hakimullah Mehsud. And the Americans used their drones to fire missiles in Pakistani tribal areas and kill those two people who were the enemies of Pakistan. In the past, Pakistanis used to complain that the Americans were only targeting al-Qaeda people and Afghan Taliban commanders, not the Pakistani Taliban, who were actually exploding bombs in Pakistani cities and attacking the Pakistani security forces, so I think that could be one reason why now the Pakistanis are more inclined to cooperate with the US. Secondly, it is possible that the Americans provided the intelligence, as they do in all such cases, and the Pakistanis had no choice but to go along and capture this man. So I think it will not be a real change in policy, because Pakistan still has links with some Afghan Taliban, and a number of these Afghan Taliban are hiding in Pakistan. But I think it could be a slight shift in policy, not a real change.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us.

YUSUFZAI: Thank you.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee complete accuracy.

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Rahimullah Yusufzai is a Senior Analyst with the Pakistani TV channel, Geo TV, and the Resident Editor of The News International in Peshawar, an English newspaper from Pakistan. Rahimullah has served as a correspondent for Time Magazine, BBC World Service, BBC Pashto, BBC Urdu, Geo TV, and ABC News. Mr. Yusufzai has interviewed Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and a range of other militants across the tribal areas of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Rahimullah joins us from Peshawar, Pakistan.