A report that tribal leaders in Kandahar say they could broker a truce with the Taliban comes today, along with news that at the end of January secret peace talks were held between the insurgent group and the Afghan government at the Bandos Island resort in the Maldives. To put these developments into context, Ahmed Rashid delivers another of this indispensable reports on the Afghan conundrum. Rashid’s latest New York Review of Books essay says Pakistan is the key to more formal talks with the Taliban. He says Pakistan’s military is deeply fearful of upheaval after a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. So, in a major policy shift, senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials are apparently offering to help. This is a must-read for those trying to keep up on the complex Afghan situation.