Troubles in Quetta
There is news out of Islamabad that the former Taliban defense minister has been arrested by Pakistani forces. According to The New York Times account, he is the most important Taliban member to be captured since the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
The arrest comes on the heels of a visit to Pakistan by Dick Cheney, the purpose of which was to twist President (Dictator?) Pervez Musharraf’s arm into adopting a more pro-active policy when it comes to combating a resurgent Taliban that has apparently taken root along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Pakistani perfidy has been a topic of conversation in certain circles since last year when the Pakistani government signed a peace deal with militants and tribal leaders in the unruly western provinces.
Ostensibly, news of Mullah Obaidullah’s arrest is good news, but it has the effect of validating all the criticism that has been lobbed in Musharraf’s direction. It is more than too cute for such a high profile arrest to occur on the very day (or at least be announced on the very day) that Big Bad Dick Cheney was paying a visit. If anything, the real significance of Obaidullah’s arrest is that it lends fresh urgency to the dilemma of Musharraf, and just what kind of ally he is.