LEADING US dailies, quoting western diplomats have revealed that a key figure in high-level talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban is allegedly a Taliban impostor. Afghan officials thought they had been talking to a top Taliban commander named Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, former Transport Minister during the Taliban rule but it now appears the man is an ordinary shopkeeper from Quetta, who was paid a lot of money for participating in the talks. According to the US dailies, the Afghan and NATO officials held at least three secret meetings with the impostor. And officials said the man claiming to be Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was even flown on a NATO aircraft to the Afghan capital, Kabul, to meet with President Karzai.
Reports of the impostor raise doubts about Kabul’s efforts to reconcile with the Taliban and resolve the nine-year war. Last week, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar denied that his group was negotiating a peace agreement with the Afghan government. Omar called reports of talks “baseless propaganda” designed to cover up what he called the failure of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. “Americans here admit that they don’t often know what these people look like; that they can only go on who they say they are because these people have been hiding and fighting this insurgency for so long. So they have to go on trust to a certain extent, and it seems that this particular man has managed to get away with it. There are so many channels of different meetings going on. Whether they are held behind the scenes, whether they are presidential meetings or whether they are just members of the High Council for Peace. It is very difficult to know who they are talking to.”
NATO said it also helped to facilitate the discussions by providing air transport and securing roadways for two other Taliban leaders coming from Pakistan. The status of these Taliban leaders said to be involved is not clear. While the Afghan government still harbours hopes that the man would return for another round of negotiations, US officials said they had concluded that the man in question was not Mansour. How the US reached this definitive conclusion is unclear. Last October, Karzai confirmed that unofficial talks between his government and the Taliban aimed at ending the nine-year conflict had been going on for “quite some time”. Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president, chairs the peace council tasked with brokering an end to the war with the Taliban. General David H. Petraeus said the coalition was providing safe passage to Taliban leaders to talk with Karzai’s government, quickly raising expectations that a new phase of serious discussions had begun.
The intensity of the ruse can be gauged from the fact that the CIA and NATO had been involved in organizing the so called negotiations. With the highly professional and much touted intelligence agency like CIA, which has a massive database being duped in this shoddy manner, shows the level of control they have in Afghanistan. They don’t even know they are negotiating with so God alone knows how many innocent men, women and children they are slaughtering in the mistaken identity of Taliban. It confirms the various unwarranted attacks on bridal and funeral processions. Speaking at a NATO summit in Portugal last weekend, Obama said that “the objective assessment is that we have made progress” in the war effort, and “we are in a better place now than we were a year ago. If this is the extent of progress then help them God! The shameful aspect is that after being deceived by a con artist, they are now trying to pin the blame on Pakistan and its premier intelligence agency, ISI. They are alleging that the impostor reportedly came from Pakistan, but his identity and possible motivation for posing as the Taliban commander are unclear and are maliciously claiming that he might have been sent by Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. This is really sinking low and should be condemned vehemently. The case of being duped by an impostor underscores the need for NATO and Afghanistan to solicit the help of Pakistan in its efforts for negotiation with the “real” and “genuine” Taliban – Dailymailnews