The arrest of the de facto Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Karachi, Pakistan after a joint secret CIA-Pakistan raid was another major blow for the brutal insurgency in the region. Just few days before that, on February 13, a massive onslaught in the restive south of Afghanistan attacked the hardcore militants' longtime stronghold. Sporadic fighting is reported from the area, and there is resistance in some places, yet both Afghan and NATO officials claimed to have seized the town and termed the operation as 'successful.' Although the forces were ordered to be extremely careful in targeting noncombatants, two incidents of killing civilians still unfolded, yet displaced people from the conflict-hit town welcomed the operation.
In Pakistan, the insurgents saw their second and more vindictive leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, died in a drone attack probably days after he appeared in a video with the Jordanian suicide bomber and claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 7 CIA experts in Khost. Analysts in the region say that his murder had led to cause a split between other Taliban leaders in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan and that had significant negative impacts on activities of the terrorist outfit.
The arrest of Mullah Baradar is similarly the most important achievement in the counterinsurgency efforts since the US-led international troops invaded Afghanistan to oust his Al-Qaeda-linked government. Though at that time the spiritual leader of the movement was the one-eyed former jihadi commander Mullah Omar, and he still enjoys his position as the Supreme Leader, it was Mullah Baradar who emerged as a de facto leader of the Taliban and commanded the powerful Quetta Shura the existence of which the government of Pakistan constantly denied but reports said ISI had helped it in shifting to Karachi from Quetta after there was a discussion to whether kill the top Quetta Taliban leaders in drone attacks.
Pakistan is believed to have been providing support to the Afghan Taliban for a long time. Its intelligence outfits provided protection to commanders and strategists that were hiding and operating in Pakistan. How did they allow the Americans to capture this top military strategist is not clear now, but it is clear enough that this will significantly affect the insurgency in Afghanistan because the new strategy is focusing to target the top leaders, chase the local ones, and offer reintegration to the foot soldiers, all at the same time.
Now this is an important opportunity for the international community to continue chasing the top leaders in Pakistan and disconnecting them from the local commanders in the field (Afghanistan). An effective reintegration program in Kabul can help the new strategy to quicken its pace for achieving its goals which will eventually enable the Afghan government to establish its writ across the country and the allied countries to withdraw their troops. Avoiding past mistakes and strengthening Afghan security forces should be kept in mind as the most important factors in making the process successfully completed.