Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was the face of the Taliban after heading their political office in Qatar, will serve as deputy prime minister in the Interim Government announced 07 September 2021. Initially touted as the likely Prime Minister, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, also known as Mullah Beradar, is a co-founder of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Like most Afghans, Baradar's life was forever altered by the Soviet invasion of the country in the late 1970s, transforming him into an insurgent. He was believed to have fought side-by-side with the one-eyed cleric Mullah Omar. Baradar is one of four men, including Mullah Omar, who founded the Taliban movement in 1994. He served in several key positions when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001.
Donald J. Trump had Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar released from a Pakistani prison in 2018. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met 12 September 2020 with Taliban Political Deputy and Head of the Political Office Mullah Beradar and members of the Taliban negotiating team in Doha, Qatar, on the historic occasion of the start of peace negotiations. Beradar, who heads the Taliban’s political bureau, is now set to become the new President of Afghanistan.
“Baradar is a highly experienced military commander and keen political strategist and played a major role in organising the insurgency in its formative years,” Kate Clark, member of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, wrote. Baradar was one of the most experienced Taleban commanders, at the heart of the movement since its earliest days in Kandahar.
Like Mullah Omar, he is from Dehrawod in Uruzgan, but he grew up in Kandahar in a madrassa. According to Interpol, Mullah Baradar was born in Weetmak village in Dehrawood district, in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, in 1968. He is from the same Popalzai tribe as President Karzai. According to Bette Dam, a Dutch journalist who has worked extensively on the south (and who has written a book on Hamed Karzai’s rise to power), Baradar and Mullah Omar had been friends since they were in the same fighting group during the anti-Soviet jihad and he was with Mullah Omar when the Taleban was formed in 1994, although at that time not as one of the key leaders.
As the Taleban expanded through the country during the 1990s, Baradar took on a succession of posts, almost all military: he was head of the south-western military zone, (possibly briefly) governor of Herat (1998), head of the Central Army Corps in Kabul and Deputy Chief of Staff in 1999. He also used to occasionally deputise for Mullah Obaidullah as minister for defence. He was certainly actively involved in the war at the various fronts during those years.
The Afghanistan Justice Project (AJP) reported him as having been in Kunduz, the Taleban’s early northern stronghold, in 1997 when Taleban forces attacked, captured and then lost Mazar-e Sharif and as leading a major force into Balkhab, Sari Pul – one of the remaining Northern Alliance enclaves – in 1999. The same report provided testimony that, as deputy chief of staff, on the ground during the Taleban offensive on the Shomali in 1999, “he personally order[ed] and over-[saw] one of the massacres, the summary execution of the eleven air base personnel at Dasht-e Chirchirik on August 3.”
Baradar fled to Pakistan after the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban government. After the fall of the Taleban regime, Mullah Omar, the Taleban’s ‘Amir ul-Mu’menin’ was in hiding and largely incommunicado, Mullah Obaidullah was number two in the hierarchy and Baradar number three. When Obaidullah was arrested in Pakistan in early 2007, Baradar took over his role as the effective operational boss of the movement and head of the Leadership Shura (the Quetta Shura). Obaidullah died in Pakistani custody in 2010.
In 2004, according to Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban cabinet minister, Baradar authorized a Taliban delegation that approached Karzai with a peace offer, even paying their travel expenses to Kabul. That outreach fizzled. And in 2009 two senior Taliban operatives sent out separate peace feelers to Qayyum Karzai, the Afghan president's older brother, apparently with Baradar's approval.
According to Interpol, as of May 2007 he was a member of Taliban 'Quetta Council'. Believed to be in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area. Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1267 (1999) and successor resolutions, including resolution 1822 (2008), he was under the following UN Sanctions: Freezing of Assets, Travel Ban and Arms Embargo. The Subject had the following permanent reference number on the list maintained by the UN Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee (1267 Committee) which appears in the Special Notice for this subject: TI.B.24.01.
Ron Moreau wrote for Newsweek in a 2009 profile "Baradar appoints and fires the Taliban's commanders and governors; presides over its top military council and central ruling Shura in Quetta, the city in southwestern Pakistan where most of the group's senior leaders are based; and issues the group's most important policy statements in his own name. It is key that he controls the Taliban's treasury—hundreds of millions of dollars in -narcotics protection money, ransom payments, highway tolls, and "charitable donations," largely from the Gulf."
"He commands all military, political, religious, and financial power," says Mullah Shah Wali Akhund, a guerrilla subcommander from Helmand province who met Baradar in March 2009 in Quetta for the fourth time. "Baradar has the makings of a brilliant commander," said Prof. Thomas Johnson, a longtime expert on Afghanistan and an adviser to Coalition forces. "He's able, charismatic, and knows the land and the people so much better than we can hope to do. He could prove a formidable foe."
He was arrested by Pakistani authorities in the southern port city of Karachi in 2010. At the time of his arrest in Karachi in 2010, Baradar was the effective number two in the movement and de facto operational chief of the insurgency. The White House hailed the capture of Mullah Baradar as a 'big success' for joint U.S.-Pakistan efforts to combat extremists, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke hailed the capture of Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, whose arrest could deal a heavy blow to the group's eight-year war in Afghanistan. The arrest was the most important Taliban capture since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Following the arrest of the Taliban military chief in Karachi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Pakistan's cooperation in the war against terror as serving the best interests of both the countries. Also, the official Voice of America radio noted that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar's arrest 'signals a change in the Pakistani mindset.'
Pakistan detained Baradar and other Taliban leaders because they were prepared to discuss reintegration with the Karzai government. Senior Taliban fighters in Pakistan may be prepared to reintegrate, but are forced by the Pakistan Government to continue to fight. Some Afghan Taliban commanders cannot return to Afghanistan because they are on the Joint Priority Effects List (JPEL) and are told by the Pakistanis they must continue to fight or will be turned over to the coalition.
Ashley J. Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote in January 2010, "rather than supporting the declared U.S. goal of defeating the Taliban, the recent arrests exemplify a Pakistani effort to seize control over the process of negotiations and reconciliation that its military leaders believe is both imminent and inevitable in the Afghan conflict. And it is emphatically motivated by the conviction that India, not the Afghan Taliban, is the main enemy to be neutralized in the Afghan endgame."
Peter Bergen, Director of the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 24 May 2011 that the arrest of Mullah Baradar "shows that the Pakistani military and government wants to retain a veto over any significant negotiations going forward. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as certainly Pakistan’s legitimate interests in the post-American Afghanistan must be recognized, but it also demonstrates that negotiations with the Taliban will not be as straightforward as just having the Afghan government and the insurgents at the negotiating table."
Pakistan released the Afghan Taliban leader from prison, a spokesman for the Taliban announced 25 October 2018. Local English daily The News reported that Pakistani authorities released Baradar on the solicitation of the government of Qatar, where the political office of Taliban is based. Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited Islamabad and held meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The development came after the Taliban confirmed that they had held talks with US Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha, the capital of Qatar. “This release has come at a time when the United States has started directly talking to Taliban, it seems the timing [for this release] is really important,” Zahin Hussain, an analyst based in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera.
Baradar headed the political office of the Taliban and was part of the group’s negotiating team in Doha to try and thrash out a political deal that could pave the way for a ceasefire and more lasting peace in Afghanistan. In his opening remarks, Mullah Baradar said, “We seek an Afghanistan that is independent, sovereign, united, developed and free — an Afghanistan with an Islamic system in which all people of the nation can participate without discrimination.” The process failed to make significant headway.
The accepted truth was that the Taliban are ‘puppets’ of Pakistan’s ISI. Mullah Baradar did three things during his December 2020 trip to Karachi: visit wounded Taliban comrades, visit a Taliban training center, and thanked the Pakistani government for their help. Many Pakistanis viewed this as clear proof that the Taliban were not only supported by Pakistan, but that they are not negotiating independently of Pakistani interests, thus the meetings in Karachi.
Baradar declared on 16 August 2021 that the movement’s swift victory over the Afghan government was an unrivalled feat but that the real test of governing effectively would begin now that it had won power. In a brief video statement, Baradar said the victory, which saw all of the country’s major cities fall in a week, was unexpectedly swift and had no match in the world. However, he said the real test would begin now with meeting the expectations of the people and serving them by resolving their problems.
Baradar was said to be injured after a clash with the outfit's ally, Haqqani Network, late Friday 03 September 2021, prompting Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed to make an emergency trip to Kabul to troubleshoot the situation, according to multiple reports. According to an unverified report by the Panjshir Observer, the gunfire heard in Kabul on Friday was supposedly due to the power struggle between Baradar and Anas Haqqani.
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