Many Pakistani newspapers are reporting that Mullah Abdul Ghani Barodar, deputy commander of the Afghan Taliban, has been freed in recent days so that he can play a role in peace negotiations. Is he the senior Taliban figure that NATO admits it has allowed to travel to Kabul for peace discussions? US Commander General David Petraeus admitted in London this week: "There have been several very senior Taliban leaders who have reached out to the Afghan government at the highest levels, and also in some cases have reached out to other countries involved in Afghanistan".
He added: "These discussions can only be characterized as preliminary in nature. They certainly would not rise to the level of being called negotiations".
While the Taliban's official spokesman has denied that peace talks are taking place, saying that such stories are designed to sap the morale of Taliban fighters, it looks increasingly as if talks-about-talks are occurring.
Update: The ISI is claiming that there is no truth in stories that Barodar was released recently. See this article in the WSJ, for example.
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