Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a member of the Taliban's high leadership council, and the other prisoners are "accused of criminal acts" in Afghanistan and will be extradited, according to a statement from the office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.This would be a huge step forward in Afghan-Pakistani relations as cooperation between the two countries on dealing with the Taliban and al Qaeda has been few and far between. It's a hopeful sign that a comprehensive strategy to deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda has been emerging.
Baradar and other Afghan militants will be extradited under a prisoner exchange agreement that is still being hammered out by both countries, according to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik and an Afghan interior ministry spokesman.
Malik, who met with his Afghan counterpart and FBI director Robert Mueller on Wednesday, told reporters after that meeting that a treaty on the exchange would be completed in coming days, and that both nations were comparing prisoner lists and setting up a committee to oversee the process.
The agreement is being drafted by justice ministry officials in both countries, said Zamaray Bashari, spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry. He said it had not been determined when the exchange would happen, nor how many prisoners from each country would be extradited. But he called the exchange "comprehensive," meaning it would include recently captured prisoners -- such as Baradar -- and those who have been in custody for years.
If the Obama Administration helped make this possible via diplomatic efforts behind the scenes in Islamabad and Kabul, then they rightfully deserve the credit. For far too long, the Pakistanis have been reluctant to crack down against the Taliban, even when the Taliban directly threatened the Pakistani government. This appears to be yet another step towards a sustained effort to stop the Taliban, which will have benefits on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.