Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's [ Images ] government has been in direct contact with Jalaludin Haqqani, the ageing leader of the Haqqani network, which is based in Pakistan and run by his eldest son Sirajudin, the New York Times reported.
According to the report, an immediate member of the Haqqani family had recently participated in talks with representatives of Karzai along with three other top commanders of the Quetta Shura, a militant organisation comprising top leadership of the Afghan Taliban. The paper said the talks involve extensive face-to-face discussions with highest-level Taliban commanders, who are secretly leaving their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops.
"Some of the discussions have taken place right in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul and are unfolding between the inner circle of Karzai and members of the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network," NYT said, quoting high-level Afghan and Pakistani officials.
The paper said the Taliban leaders coming into Afghanistan for talks have left their havens in Pakistan on the explicit assurance that they will not be attacked or arrested by the NATO forces. "Many top Taliban leaders reside in Pakistan, where they are believed to enjoy at least some official protection," the paper said.
Citing one case, NYT said Taliban leaders had crossed the border from Pakistan and then boarded a NATO aircraft bound for Kabul. In other cases, NATO forces have secured roads to allow Taliban commanders to reach Afghan and NATO controlled areas.
The paper said that most of the discussions had taken place outside Kabul and it was withholding identities of the Taliban leaders at the request of the White House.
Mulla Mohammed Omar, the reclusive one-eyed overall leader of the Taliban was being cut out of negotiation in part, because of his closeness to the Pakistani's Inter-Services Intelligence, officials said.
NYT expressed surprise at opening of contacts with Jalaludin Haqqani, a former minister in the Taliban-led Afghan government in the 90s, saying that he led a mafia-like organisation based in North Waziristan.
The group has sheltered several key members of Al Qaeda [ Images ] and continues to maintain close links to ISI. The Haqqani network, NYT said, is believed to be responsible for carrying out many suicide attacks inside Kabul that have killed hundreds of civilians.General David H Petraeus, the overall commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, had recently written to the United States' President Barack Obama's [ Images ] administration to declare the Haqqani network a terrorist organisation.