The Taliban leadership has put out a statement today on the Kai Eide affair (see article below). The statement includes the following point:
"Some baseless propaganda is underway, claiming that a delegation of the Islamic Emirate had participated in meetings held in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Maldives and now as per their claim, have met Kei Eide. The Islamic Emirate refutes these allegations and clearly declares that delegations of the Islamic Emirate have not participated in these meetings.
Similarly, the propaganda launched against the esteemed deputy Amir of the Islamic Emirate, Mullah Barodar Akhund, allegedly involving him in these meeting has no basis. No one can produce evidence to indicate his participation. This is an enemy effort to create mistrust among Mujahideen.
If some irresponsible persons presumably participated in the said meeting in the name of the Islamic Emirate, they can't be considered as representatives of the Islamic Emirate but it might have happened that some opportunists cashed in on the moribund condition of the enemy."
So according to the Taliban leadership, Mullah Barodar, who is now held in a Pakistani prison, along with several other senior leaders of the Taliban, was never involved in meetings. He remains, according to this statement, "esteemed".
At the same time, Hezb-i-Islami, the organisation controlled by warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is quite definitely involved in negotiations in Kabul. This morning it was reported that a five-man delegation from Hizb-i-Islami arrived in the capital 10 days ago, and a second one, including Qutbudin Halal, a powerful figure in the group, came on Saturday.
The delegation is carrying a 15-point plan that calls for foreign forces to start pulling out in July, said the group's spokesman in Pakistan.
The plan also calls for the Afghan parliament to serve until December. After that, parliament would be replaced by an interim government, or shura, which would hold local and national elections within a year, according to the plan. A new Afghan constitution would be written, merging the current version with ones used earlier.
Two weeks ago it was reported that Hekmatyar's forces had become involved in fighting against Taliban fighters trying to move into their districts in Baghlan province in the north of the country. Around 70 Hekmatyar fighters defected to the government side.
All these events are likely to be connected to the peace jirga now being organised by the Karzai government and set for three days beginning on 29 April. Karzai will be anxious to make sure that some credible elements of the Taliban attend the jirga.
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