NIGHTWATCH Extract: PSYOP versus Truth in AF-PK

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Afghanistan-Pakistan: Afghanistan’s Tolo TV cited Pakistani media stating that Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar was arrested in Pakistan, Xinhua reported 6 July. Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi almost immediately rejected the report as “mere Western propaganda,” stating that the Taliban chief is free, enjoys sound health and is in full command of his fighters.

The Nation reported that Taliban spokesperson Zabeeh Ullah said the United States is employing propaganda tactics to save face. He stated that Mullah Omar is still in Afghanistan. Pakistani intelligence and police sources also denied the arrest of Mullah Omar.

Comment: This is one of the best psychological warfare anecdotes of the nine-year war. In its effort to refute the claim, Pakistani sources divulged that Pakistan arrested around 100 second rank leaders of Taliban in the past two years. Unnamed sources said the intelligence agencies arrested 64 Taliban leaders in 2009 and 35 in 2010, but not Omar.

Several Taliban leaders were arrested in various cities as the result of joint operations by Pakistani and US intelligence agencies, the sources said.

In the urgency to set the record straight about Omar without looking completely incompetent, Pakistani official sources divulged more details about the numbers arrested than previously. The numbers raise a question how many second rank leaders were killed by drones in the same periods.

Under similar pressure, the Taliban spokesman also provided information about Omar that is damning to Pakistani law enforcement. Omar is most likely in Karachi, not in Afghanistan.

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