Taliban chief forged secret links with Afghan leadership
Published 17/03/2010 | 05:00
The Taliban's chief military commander was in secret talks with Hamid Karzai's family just weeks before his arrest by Pakistan intelligence officers, it has been claimed.
The Afghan president was furious about the seizure of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi last month as the men had been negotiating, according to his aides.
Diplomats have claimed that at least one of Mr Karzai's brothers held talks with the Taliban's number two, two months ago.
The meeting is believed to have included discussion on the opium and heroin trade, and politics generally.
However a spokesman for the president denied that there had been direct talks between the government and Mullah Baradar.
The claim came as Mr Karzai prepared to announce a grand tribal peace council in the first week of May, which he claims will begin a reconciliation drive with Afghanistan's insurgents.
Abdul Ali Shamsi, a security adviser to the governor of Helmand province, said: "The government has been negotiating with Mullah Baradar, who took an offer to the Taliban (ruling council)."
The discussions between the two parties, who are members the Popalzai tribe, hinged on business interests rather than a political peace deal, one analyst in Kabul said.
Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president's brother and the head of Kandahar's provincial council, has strongly denied allegations that he is involved in the Afghan drug trade.
Mullah Baradar's arrest provoked suspicions that he was seized at the behest of Pakistan intelligence officers opposed to a deal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)