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Mullah Baradar the front-runner for Afghan Presidency is no friend of Pakistan

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who has emerged as the front-runner for the Afghanistan President’s post

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who has emerged as the front-runner for the Afghanistan President’s post, is no friend of Pakistan.

In 2010, Mullah Baradar was arrested in Karachi by agents the Pakistan’s all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence.  He was photographed and paraded in chains and then languished in jail for eight long years. 

Pakistan had to set Mullah Baradar free in 2018 following pressure from the Donald Trump administration as American negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad envisaged him as an important player in the peace talks in Qatar that eventually led to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

Despite his military activities, Mullah Baradar, who is the deputy leader of the Taliban, was reportedly behind several attempts to begin peace talks, in 2004 and 2009. He was based in Qatar in recent months as a key player in the settlement with the USA.

With the Taliban sweeping back to power in a lightning 11-day offensive after the US withdrawal Mullah Baradar has now come back to Afghanistan as the process for forming the new government is underway.

He landed at Kandahar on Wednesday, the Taliban's spiritual birthplace and capital during their first term in power.  Local media showed his arrival from Qatar to a  boisterous welcome from his supporters who celebrated the occasion by pumping their fists in the air. 

When Taliban fighters entered Kabul on August 15, a video of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was posted on social media. The head of the Taliban's political bureau delivered a short speech before the white flag of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan.

“We have reached a victory that wasn’t expected. We should show humility in front of Allah," he said, expressing surprise by the lightning speed of Kabul's fall.

"Now it is time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life," added Baradar, as he urged his fighters to remain disciplined after taking control of the city.

Baradar, who has long served as the moderate face of the hardline Islamist group, is likely to return to power after a 20-year exile.

In 2009 Baradar ordered Taliban soldiers to carry a small handbook on how to win the hearts and minds of villagers. He eventually graduated from military commander to the political face of the Taliban.

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