[A Pakistani official] said the arrest of Mullah Obaidullah, who was defence minister in the ousted Taliban regime, had no link with Mr Cheney’s visit and the action which led to his arrest had been planned in advance based on good intelligence.The official declined to give further information but said that two others, who were captured along with Mullah Obaidullah “could be” Amir Khan Haqqani, a Taliban commander in Zabul, and Abdul Bari, the former governor of Helmand province.
Amir Khan Haqqani it is, says the Blotter:
Pakistan intelligence sources say a second high-ranking Taliban leader has been taken into custody, as the country appeared to be responding to Vice President Dick Cheney’s showdown meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf…
Pakistani officials identified him as Amir Khan Haqqani, a Taliban commander for Zabul province and member of the Taliban ruling council.
“Isn’t it amazing how quickly they were able to find these men?” scoffed one intelligence source familiar with the Cheney meeting.
Pakistani officials say both men were arrested at the same Quetta hotel based on information provided by the United States…
Pakistani intelligence officials say [CIA Deputy Director Stephen] Kappes provided the whereabouts of three Taliban figures in and around Quetta, but the third person “slipped out” before authorities could arrest him.
Yeah, I’ll bet he did. I wrote about Quetta as a Taliban rat’s nest in yesterday’s post, but to fully appreciate just how farcical is the suggestion that the Pakistanis needed the CIA to tell them where these guys are, revisit this NYT Sunday Magazine piece from October:
Today, Quetta has assumed the character of Peshawar in the 1980’s, a suspicious place of spies and counterspies and double agents. It is not just the hundreds of men in typical Afghan Pashtun clothing — the roughly wound turbans, dark shalwar kameez, eyes inked with kohl — who squat on Thursday afternoons outside the Kandahari mosque in the center of town, comparing notes on the latest fighting in Helmand or the best religious teachers. Rather, as I wandered the narrow alleyways of the Afghan neighborhoods, my local guides would say, “That’s where Mullah Dadullah was living” or “That’s where Mullah Amir Khan Haqqani is living.” (Haqqani is the Taliban’s governor in exile for Zabul Province.) Mullah Dadullah is now a folk hero for young Talibs like A. And all the Taliban I met told me that every time Dadullah gives another interview or appears on the battlefield, it serves as an instant injection of inspiration.
The Afghans have been trying to kill Haqqani for at least three years. Can’t wait to see where this trail leads.