Mullah Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Taliban has been operated on in Pakistan in order to save his life after a heart attack, according to reports.
Omar and his associates are said to base themselves in Quetta across the Pakistan border from Afghanistan, where they allegedly have the protection of the Pakistani military.
The report suggests that the Pakistanis are keen to keep him alive to preserve their influence over the Taliban, despite official denials.
Omar had a heart attack on January 7 and was treated for several days in a hospital in Karachi, according to the report by a company run by former CIA and military officers and carried online by the Washington Post.
A doctor at the hospital, which was not identified, said he saw Omar struggling to recover from an operation to put a stent – an artificial tube – in his heart.
He is now said to be at a safe-house run by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, in Karachi.
The report came from the Eclipse Group, which has run intelligence-gathering operations for the US government in Afghanistan.
The report said Omar was rushed to hospital by the ISI where he was given heparin, an anticoagulant, and operated on.
"While I was not personally in the operating theatre," the doctor said, "my evaluation based on what I have heard and seeing the patient in the hospital is that Mullah Omar had a cardiac catheter complication resulting in either bleeding or a small cerebral vascular incident, or both."
The doctor added: "After the operation, there seemed to be some brain damage with Mullah Omar having slurred speech."
He said Omar spent a few days in hospital and added: "His post hospital course is consistent with this type of outcome. Three-four days in hospital is consistent with cardiac catheterisation and or cardiac stent placement.
"Bed rest and aphasia [difficulty speaking] post-catheterisation could be from a bleeding complication."
The report said that after three to four days of post-operative care, he was released to the ISI and ordered to take absolute bed rest at home for at least several days.
It said the ISI was keeping the Quetta shura, the Taliban's governing body run by Mullah Omar, "informed" about his recovery at "an ISI guesthouse in Karachi under ISI guard."
It said a source in the Quetta shura said: "Mullah Omar is continuing to improve and his speech is clearing."
A US official from Kabul told the Washington Post: "No one on this end has heard this. It doesn't mean it's not true, we just have no information to confirm or dispute these facts."
Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, said the report "had no basis whatsoever".