Asked by a friend about why Pakistan had suddenly decided–yes, decided, because the ISI knows exactly where the top Taliban leadership is hiding–to capture Mullah Baradar in Karachi, I speculated that it was part of some grand bargain over Afghanistan. Steve Coll agrees with my analysis:

“Over the last few months, by multiple means, the United States and its allies have been seeking to persuade Pakistan that it can best achieve its legitimate security goals in Afghanistan through political negotiations, rather than through the promotion of endless (and futile) Taliban guerrilla violence—and that the United States will respect and accommodate Pakistan’s agenda in such talks. Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Taliban, especially in recent years, was always best understood as a military lever to promote political accommodations of Pakistan in Kabul. Baradar, however, has defiantly refused to participate in such political strategies, as he indicated in an e-mail interview he gave to Newsweek last year. The more the Taliban’s leaders enjoying sanctuary in Karachi or Quetta refuse to lash themselves to Pakistani political strategy, the more vulnerable they become to a knock on the door in the middle of the night.”

Pakistan’s military and intelligence leadership has realized that it can effectively leverage its Afghan Taliban assets in exchange for greater influence in a post-NATO Afghanistan.