|History and Biodata
2. Previous Function:
Taliban shadow governor in charge of military and political operations in Nimroz Province (2014)
Maulawi Abdul Rashid Baluch was born 1971 in Dishu District, Helmand Province. AKA: RASHID BALOCH Abdul AKA: RASHID Mullah Abdul AKA: RASHID BAHRAWI Abdul AKA: RASHID Qari Abdul AKA: RASHID Hafiz Abdul AKA: RASHID Abdul. He was a notorious regional leader and was on the United States Treasury Department’s “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” list. He was arrested in a narcotics raid in Nimruz five years ago in July 2014. Taliban officials have denied that Baluch was involved in trafficking a ton of opium. Despite evidence of Baluch’s involvement in terrorist attacks, Afghan prosecutors deliberately tried him on stricter counternarcotics charges. They feared that the counterterrorism process was vulnerable to political deal-making. Now, the release of Baluch under circumstances lacking transparency, is the latest instance of a major drug smuggler going free. However the US designated Baluch as a terrorist in 2015, reporting that he “served as a Taliban liaison officer to al Qaeda (AQ) and was responsible for planning meetings between Taliban senior leadership” and al Qaeda “members in Karachi, Pakistan.”
Now, the release of Baluch, especially if it is tied to the United States peace talks with the Taliban, once again brings to the fore the concern that the American negotiations did not address the complexity of the conflict — and particularly how to consider the Taliban’s increasing hold on the massive drug trade in the country. Both Afghan and Western officials at the time played up his case, and his arrest in a counternarcotics operation rather than a counterterrorism raid. He was tried in the country’s high-security drug court and given an 18-year sentence. Late in 2014, Hajji Lal Jan Ishaqzai, another major kingpin, bribed his way out of prison by paying millions of dollars. Long among wanted international smugglers, he had been arrested in 2012 after a shootout and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Baluch’s arrest was trumpeted by the U.S-Afghan authorities as proof of Taliban involvement in the international drug trade.