Frequent traveller Mullah Mansour used Pakistan airports

Published: May 24, 2016
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A file photo of Taliban chief Mullah Akhter Mansoor.

A file photo of Taliban chief Mullah Akhter Mansoor.

ISLAMABAD: US President Barack Obama has hailed the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansour as an ‘important milestone’ in efforts to restore peace in Afghanistan, but Pakistani officials believe it was a ‘big gamble’ by the United States that could change the dynamics of the Afghan conflict.

While official reaction from Islamabad has so far been muted, hectic consultations are under way both at the level of the security establishment and the Foreign Office to chart out a future course.

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Background discussions with security and foreign policy officials show that the American move to eliminate the Afghan Taliban chief is ‘fraught with danger’. The immediate risk, according to the officials, is that Afghanistan might slip into chaos as the insurgent group might have lost its chief but not its capability to mount large-scale deadly attacks.

There is also danger of factionalism in the Taliban movement. And in that scenario, rival ultra-extremist groups such as the Islamic State might gain ground – something that would not favour Afghanistan, Pakistan or even the United States, cautioned officials.

Pakistan is frustrated because Mansour was targeted at a time when efforts were under way to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Although officials admitted the Taliban have so far been unresponsive to the quartet-backed peace initiative, this did not mean the group refused to engage in the future.

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In fact, Mansour favoured talks. “It was Mullah Mansour who had sent his emissaries to Murree in July last year,” revealed another official. “If he [Mansour] did not favour talks, then why would he send his emissaries?”

Pakistan also felt ‘betrayed’ and ‘deceived’ by the US as according to officials there was an understanding among quartet members that the Taliban leaders would be given a safe passage for travelling. Many Taliban leaders had travelled on Pakistani documents to Doha and other countries – and the US authorities knew that.

The travel history of Muhammad Wali, who was believed to be Mansour , showed he was a frequent traveller. A copy of his travel history obtained from immigration authorities shows Mansour had travelled to Iran, Dubai, Karachi and even Bahrain over the past few years.

A photo of Mullah Mansour’s travel history dating back to 1972. PHOTO: EXPRESS

There were also reports that Pakistan might have tipped off the US about the presence of Mansour in Balochistan since he had turned down recent requests from Islamabad to join the fragile peace process.  “Who would benefit from this situation?” asked one official before quickly adding, “it certainly won’t be Pakistan.”

In March Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had admitted that the Taliban leadership lived in Quetta, and that Pakistan was using this as a leverage to persuade them to engage with Kabul.

Islamabad is upset with Mansour’s killing because there is an understanding among Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US that a framework would be evolved for the use of force against the Taliban if they refused to join the peace process. “That stage has not arrived yet but the US went for solo flight,” the official said referring to the latest meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) in which all sides decided to give peace a chance.

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Pakistan is also assessing if the Naushki strike was a deliberate US attempt to scuttle peace efforts. In recent months, there were reports that differences emerged in the QCG as it was divided into two groups. While the US and Afghanistan pushed for the use of military force against the Taliban, Pakistan and China insisted on giving peace a chance.

Pakistan now feels this was the second time efforts to broker a peace deal were undermined because of untimely action by the US. Previously, it was the news of death of Mullah Omar that led to the collapse of a second round of direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives.

With this latest US drone strike, officials here now have given up hopes for peace talks. “The QCG, in my view, is no more relevant,” said the official. He added that events in the coming months would decide whether the killing of Mullah Mansour would bring peace or more violence to Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Zaida Parvez
    May 24, 2016 - 11:21AM

    The Good-Terrorist, Bad-Terrorist saga continues.Recommend

  • Ashraf P
    May 24, 2016 - 11:23AM

    The World’s Best Spy agency must stop being this good. It is not helping Pakistan.Recommend

  • Reader
    May 24, 2016 - 12:28PM

    A blunder by US & price will be paid by innocent Afghan people. US should’ve given peace a chance Recommend

  • Acorn Guts
    May 24, 2016 - 12:45PM

    Not in favour or harbouring Taliban but agree with the official that now it is very difficult for Pakistan to continue pressing for peace talks. If war is what US/India/Afg want then let them have it .. yes Pakistan will suffer but it’s not like we are living in paradise anyway.Recommend

  • Jawad Asif
    May 24, 2016 - 1:09PM

    Complete chaotic situation, very upset to see the absence of leadership in PakistanRecommend

  • Shetty
    May 24, 2016 - 1:27PM

    @Reader:
    Very true.Recommend

  • Farru
    May 24, 2016 - 1:28PM

    But there is a one big problem: there is a huge difference in Pakistan’s opinion and the US’s opinion on Afghanistan.

    The problem is quite simple: Kabul is furious with Pakistan’s role in peace talks especially after the attack on NDS head quarters in which over 60 people were killed.

    This is why the US took such a big step of eliminating Mansour. It is as simple as that. Recommend

  • alamoona gharkaweena
    May 24, 2016 - 1:52PM

    It’s time now for Pakistan to reassess the whole situation once again and bring about a change in policy towards Afghan imbroglio. We should try to save Pakistani lives and precious material assetts from any further damage due to the war which is not by any imagination our’s.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    May 24, 2016 - 3:46PM

    Had not been Americans watching our skies and some patriotic soldiers patrolling our borders, these frequent travelers and their supporters would have become permanent occupiers. Thank you.Recommend

  • May 24, 2016 - 3:58PM

    Time to get out of this mess. Hands off policy on Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Truth seeker
    May 24, 2016 - 4:46PM

    Shall I say the truth ?
    This entire drama is being played by NS with the SOS request to US to divert attention of public from Panama Gate .Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed
    May 24, 2016 - 5:50PM

    used only Pakistan airports?..huh care to mention what airport he used on the other side when traveling, demonising Pakistan is the prime purpose!
    He could have targeted in Iran or Afghanistan, but no it has to be in Pakistan when US target him.
    spineless government allow this to happen!Recommend

  • mahmoud
    May 24, 2016 - 6:24PM

    In the name of the thousands innocent children,women and men killed by bomb blast while in the market inside the mosque and even in schools,shame on you who support these evil terrorists ,their hands are full of blood .How on earth have you come to protect such monsters who deserve only death ? They dishonor and degrade Islam in the worse manner. Good Muslims all over the world are suffering because of them devil killers have brought hate all over.While in power they brought Afghanistan hundreds of years back to the middle-age .Is that what you want for Pakistan too ??? Do not forget Swat…Recommend

  • Sandip
    May 24, 2016 - 6:42PM

    @Truth seeker: Why do you sound surprized? Did your favourite boyz think that only they can play games? There are master players around that can leave your boyz looking like a bunch of schoolboys.Recommend

  • nadeem ansari
    May 24, 2016 - 6:56PM

    The way to getting F-16s is cleared. Pakistani officials may end this mock-mourning.
    Every one was helpful to Pakistan in getting rid of this boy , who had no clue as to
    sacrifice he made for the sake of some planes . Recommend

  • Supersequel
    May 24, 2016 - 7:59PM

    What is the Obama administration doing? I hope Obama isn’t doing this as part of his last-year legacy-building image. Also, I thought the White House wanted peace. Even the nazis were forgiven at some point. Recommend

  • Midas
    May 25, 2016 - 3:08AM

    Ok, so you assess it was a deliberate attempt to scuttle the attempt, so what is your recourse are you going to go UN and get an embargo of sorts. Just do what u always do call and tell them you’re a sovereign state snd then move on till next time. This is your worth. Recommend

  • IndianDude
    May 25, 2016 - 3:22AM

    …Frequent traveller Mullah Mansour used Pakistan airports..

    He probably had so many frequent flyer miles that he got free upgrade on PIA every time and had a chauffeur driven escort to his seat by the authority, Recommend

  • vinsin
    May 25, 2016 - 4:36AM

    @Supersequel:
    Nazis were never forgiven but were punished through trials even till recently.Recommend

  • quatro
    May 25, 2016 - 4:58AM

    @nadeem ansari: The way to getting F-16s is cleared

    Yep – except that Pakistan’s deal with Lockheed Martin has officially expired (today) – USA Congress still won’t provide assistance with funding future F-16’s – and Obama is apparently fed up with Pakistan so even his approval on the “next deal” is unsure. I might add that Lockheed Martin has already decided to close the F-16 production line next yr so Pakistan doesn’t really have any leverage. Suggest you find another conspiracy theory.Recommend

  • Babbarsher Khan
    May 25, 2016 - 8:59AM

    “……Pakistan also felt ‘betrayed’ and ‘deceived’ by the US as according to officials there was an understanding among quartet members that the Taliban leaders would be given a safe passage for travelling…..”
    Our continued love for these “strategic assets” is beyond any rational understanding. I thought “great thinker” Hamid Gul was dead and along with him we buried our love for these mad dogs; apparently some sections of our deep state have still not given up despite the humiliation heaped on our nation by our loyalty to these medieval creatures. Recommend

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