The unrest in Afghanistan has now turned into blame game between the Republicans and Democrats. While President Joe Biden is not ready to accept that it was a mistake to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, former president Donald Trump and his allies have been slamming Biden for his decision.
In between all these, questions have been raised on who actually will take the responsibility of releasing major Taliban figure, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is now reportedly set to head the new Taliban government, from prison. Social media users have been claiming that it was Trump who got Baradar released from prison and now he poses a threat to the lives of thousands of Afghans.
Trump Played a Role
Taliban took siege of Kabul on Sunday, following which Baradar returned to the country after a 20 year exile. Since then there have been reports that he is likely to become the president of the new Taliban government.
Baradar is a terror leader and since then a claim is being made on social media that Trump played a pivotal role in getting him released from a prison in Pakistan a couple of years back.
While many have been blaming Biden and even former President Barrack Obama for the recent crisis in Afghanistan, it's true that Baradar was released in 2018 from a prison in Pakistani after the U.S. government under the Trump administration mounted pressure on the country.
Following his release, Mike Pompeo, the then- Secretary of State, even met with the fugitive leader in 2020 in a bid to start peace talks. Pompeo's meeting with Baradar was also covered by the press and the two can also be seen prominently in a photograph.
Origin of the Claim
The claim started doing the rounds just a day after Baradar's return to the war-torn country. The origin lies in a meme targeting the Trump administration for playing an integral role Baradar. The meme claiming Trumping role, read: "In 2018 Trump helped Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar get released from prison. In 2020, Trump's Secretary of State met with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. In 2021, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar appears set to become the new president of Afghanistan under Taliban rule."
However, it wasn't only the Trump administration that helped Baradar's release. American and Pakistani agents captured Baradar in 2010 and since then he was put up in a prison in Pakistan. For years, the then Afghan President Hamid Karzai had been urging the Pakistani government to release Baradar as he believed that it would have helped in starting peace talks.
Karzai's efforts didn't succeed but after the United States started initiating peace talks with the Taliban, they too started putting pressure on Pakistan to release Baradar. Finally, the Pakistani government gave in and released Baradar in 2018.
The following year, Zalmay Khalilzad was selected by Trump to initiate peace talks. Khalilzad had even said at that time that the U.S. Institute for Peace had requested Baradar's release and that he wasn't a terror leader but was more pro-peace.
The next year, Pompeo met Baradar, which he tweeted to mark the beginning of the peace talks. The same photo became the subject of the meme claiming that Trump got Baradar released and now he is going to become the president of Afghanistan.
However, while most of the claim in the meme is true, it is still not clear if Baradar is set to become the president of Afghanistan. He is currently a central figure in Taliban but there still isn't any official word on Baradar becoming the country's supreme leader.