US still 'unsure' over 'positive' or 'negative' impact of Pak Taliban arrests

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Washington, Mar.21 (ANI): There seems to be a great confusion among top US officials over the recent arrests of the some wanted Taliban commanders in Pakistan, as a day after President Obama's Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said America is "gratified" with the arrests, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Leon Panetta has stressed that while the arrests have had an impact, its effect was yet to be determined.

Talking to reporters at the Pakistani Embassy here during a reception hosted in honour of Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Noman Bashir, Panetta said the arrest of Mullah Ghani Barader, the Afghan Taliban's second-in command, has had an impact on the reconciliation process but its effect is till to be known.

"Yes the arrests have had an impact," Panetta said. When asked whether the impact has been negative or positive he added : "We are trying to work it out."

It may be noted that earlier this week, former UN Envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide had said that the arrest of some the top Taliban commanders in Pakistan has blocked the reconciliation process with the extremists.

However, Holbrooke had described the 'prized catch' as a positive step, which has put enormous pressure on the Taliban.

"We are extremely gratified that the Pakistani government has apprehended the number two person in the Taliban and he is where he belongs. And many other people have been picked up or eliminated, and this is putting much more pressure on the Taliban," Holbrooke had said.

Responding to a question, Panetta agreed that there still exists massive trust deficit between Washington and Islamabad, and that it would take time for it to be bridged.

"Yes there is still a mistrust and it will take some time before it goes away," The News quoted Panetta, as saying. (ANI)

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