AC: "It's the Pakistani military who tolerates the presence of groups like the Taliban."

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Prior to returning to Baghdad last month, Michael spent several weeks in Pakistan, and tonight we finally get to see some of reason why he was there -- he travelled to the Pakistan/Afghanistan border to take a look at what it will take to win the war in Afghanistan. He has a spokesman for the Pakistan Army saying on camera they can bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Americans. He also interviews the former head of the ISI (a man also known as "the godfather of the Taliban") who says that only Mullah Omar can bring this war to an end.

In a live 'footnote' added tonight from Baghdad, Michael says that the Obama administration is willing to meet Pakistan's requirements to begin negotiations, and to meet with the Taliban.

Michael also has an article on about this piece.

And this is not Michael's first time on the hunt for Mullah Omar; in 2002 he made a long and dangerous trip in an attempt to locate him.

ERICA HILL: Tonight, a 360 exclusive about a possible opportunity to end the fighting in Afghanistan.

What used to be called America's forgotten war is now America's fastest-growing war and President Obama's top priority. At least 635 Americans have died in combat there since the fighting began. There is a massive American offensive under way right now, and no one expects it to be the last one. But what if it could be?

Tonight, in a 360 exclusive, Michael Ware has learned about talks involving Pakistan and the Taliban and how a deal to end attacks on Western forces just might -- might -- be reached.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I came to these mountains to unravel how the Taliban in Afghanistan are based from here across the border in Pakistan.

In these remote mountain valleys of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, the Taliban can hide, train, smuggle weapons, and launch military strikes against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

For generations, the border here has been little more than a vague blur among the peaks. And that is what is crippling the American effort in Afghanistan.

(on camera): To put it simply, America cannot win the war in Afghanistan. It certainly can't win it with bombs and bullets, and it can't win it in Afghanistan alone. For part of the answer lies here, where I'm standing, in these mountain valleys in Pakistan on the Afghan border, because this is al Qaeda and Taliban territory. Right now, there's as many as 100 Taliban on that mountaintop between the snowcapped peaks and amid those trees. They're currently under siege from local villagers, who are driving them from their bunkers. But, at the end of the day, it's the Pakistani military who tolerates the presence of groups like the Taliban.

And it's not until America can start cutting deals with these people that there's any hope of the attacks on American troops coming to an end.

(voice-over): The key leader the U.S. may have to deal with is this man, Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed cleric who actually created the Taliban and led its regime, the man who, after the 9/11 attacks, sheltered Osama bin Laden, choosing war with the U.S. rather than surrender bin Laden.

Even with a $10 million reward on his head, Mullah Omar has defied all American attempts to capture or kill him. He still commands the Afghan Taliban as they continue killing U.S. and NATO troops. He and other top commanders do all of this, according to U.S. intelligence, from sanctuaries here in Pakistan.

It was the Pakistan military who helped create the Taliban. When the CIA was funding many of these same Afghan groups in the 1980s in their war against the Soviets, it was the Pakistan military that delivered the money, expertise and weapons like Stinger missiles.

Now, for the first time, in this CNN interview, the Pakistan military concedes it still maintains contact with the Taliban. At the military headquarters, we met Major General Athar Abbas, who concedes, the army's links with the Taliban were toned down after 9/11, but:

MAJOR GENERAL ATHAR ABBAS, PAKISTANI ARMY SPOKESMAN: But, having said that, no intelligence organization in the world shuts its last door on any other organization.

WARE: And, more than talking to the Taliban, the general says the Pakistan military can actually get the Taliban to sit down with the United States and broker a cease-fire.

(on camera): And that's where Pakistan can perhaps provide valuable assistance to the American mission?

ABBAS: I think, yes, that can be worked out. That's possible.

WARE (voice-over): And this is one of the men who says he can help work that deal.

GENERAL HAMID GUL (RET.), FORMER ISI DIRECTOR GENERAL: People like me, who serve the cause of the freedom of Afghanistan.

WARE: Former CIA ally General Hamid Gul, once the head of Pakistan's equivalent of the CIA, known as the ISI, he is famed as the godfather of the Taliban.

GUL: The guarantees can be given, no problem.

WARE (on camera): How? In terms of American national interests, who does America need to dialogue with?

GUL: Mullah Omar, nobody else.

WARE (voice-over): Mullah Omar, the most important Taliban leader.

But to get him and the other Taliban to the table, Pakistan wants something in return. It wants the United States to use its influence to rein in Pakistan's number-one military rival, India.


WARE: India's close association with the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan worries the Pakistanis. And the Pakistanis accuse India of supporting armed separatists in one of Pakistan's provinces.

Senior U.S. officials tell CNN the Obama administration is willing to raise those concerns with India, and that the U.S. is willing to talk with Mullah Omar and other Taliban commanders -- Erica.

HILL: It will be interesting to see if those talks ever actually happen.

Michael Ware live for us in Baghdad with that exclusive, thanks.