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Capture of Taliban commander and the jockeying for a post-US Afghanistan

Obama's 2011 deadline for a US pullout has pushed Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan into action. The capture of Taliban commander Baradar fits into a contest for influence.

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Events in Afghanistan have moved fast and dramatically since Dec. 1, when President Obama set an initial deadline of July 2011 for withdrawal of US combat forces.

Here’s the primary reason: There’s nothing like a superpower planning to exit a region to focus the minds of the key players.

They’re all trying to figure out how to fill the coming power vacuum.Last week, for example, Pakistan finally helped the CIA in capturing the Taliban’s second in command for Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Not only is this a blow to the Taliban fighting American and other NATO forces, it may help Pakistan improve its position for influence in Afghanistan against rival India after the United States departs.

Another likely result of the promised US withdrawal was India’s invitation to reopen talks with Pakistan – and Pakistan’s quick acceptance. The talks are slated to start Feb. 25.

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