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An excerpt from an article on Yahoo: "The disappearances of two top Taliban figures from public view have prompted a spokesperson to deny that one of them had died, multiple outlets reported".

In the books on English Grammar the Present Perfect tense is described as involving a span of time from earliest memory to the present, i.e. the situation is expected to extend to the present moment (depicts some indefinite event(s)) or depicting past actions the effects of which continue up to the present time. Thus it makes Present Perfect appropriate to also introduce a topic of discourse or be used in the news (as it is in the pattern).

But in the pattern the action (of prompting) is implied to be finished before a definite moment in the past (before outlets reported). So abiding by the rules of "sequence of tenses" it should be put in the Past Perfect tense: The disappearances of two top Taliban figures from public view had prompted...

Is using Present Perfect here being an exception to the rule? If so, what are other exceptions when the "sequence of tenses" principles can or shall be not observed?

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    @Mari-Lou A I'm not a beginner, of course. This question is not as simple at it may seem. The construction doesn't fall under the general rules of Pres.Perfect usage. Most part of the English Language study books are aimed at just cramming students without giving formidable knowledge. That is why it's hard for non-native speakers to understand the construction in question.
    – Eugene
    Sep 15 at 11:30
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    Like I said before, if you don't explain anything, no one will know. I am not a mind reader, you are a complete stranger to me, I don't know what you know. No one is going to start writing about the differences between Pres Perfect, the Past Perfect and the Simple Past unless they understand why you are confused.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 15 at 11:34
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    @Mari-Lou A The underlying problem is posed by the Pres.Perfect ability to denote recurrent actions in a past time lapse. That is why the construction in the pattern can be often taken in by non-native learners in the following way: as if the spokesperson had been prompted not once or twice (for ten times in an hour, for example). And here only native speakers can say for sure what it really implies.
    – Eugene
    Sep 15 at 11:40
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    @Peter Shor Maybe it's difficult for native speakers to understand the ambiguousness that is put up by non-native learners. We can't say for sure whether there is a single action or a series of identical actions implied. Even by your example I can't twig it definitely: for how many times was a spokesperson for the mob prompted to come out and deny the disappearance? (he could've been prompted by FBI and then by the police and then by the public and it might have taken place many times)
    – Eugene
    Sep 15 at 13:16
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    @Peter Shor It can be of the greater importance when it comes to, for example, justice practice. "The police officer have prompted his subordinate to illegally ransack the aggrieved". It matters severely for the sentence term whether it was a single episode or the criminal act has taken place many times.
    – Eugene
    Sep 15 at 13:49
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Posting this here, because it is too long for a comment. I might change it if the OP clarifies.

Given Sentence:

"The disappearances of two top Taliban figures from public view have prompted a spokesperson to deny that one of them had died, multiple outlets reported"

Breaking it up:
Two Taliban figures have disappeared and not seen in public (in last 5 days).
Hence, people started thinking (4 days ago) that this is because one of these Taliban figures has died.
In reality, he may be hiding or escaped to somewhere else or hospitalized or injured.
Taliban heard these rumors (3 days ago); these rumors have prompted a spokesperson to come out (2 days ago) to deny that he has died.
What the spokesperson said has being reported by "multiple outlets" maybe 2 days ago, but more likely, a little while before this Yahoo article was written.

The Crux of your Question:
Here, "These rumors have Prompted...." could also be written "These rumors had Prompted...."

This is because newspapers use tenses like that. It helps reduce the number of words in printing, and makes the news look fresh.
Consider "Biden has won" to "Biden wins".

More about Newspaper Tenses:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1837_aae/page12.shtml
https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/268001-Tenses-usage-in-news-reports
https://harshdivya.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/the-uses-of-the-present-tense-in-headlines-and-past-tense-in-news-reports/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_present
https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/weblines/521.html

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  • Thank you for your heeding me question (I really don't understand why the moderators persistently would not like questions on grammar that may seem useful for many non-native linguistics studying students). In my perception the time referred to lies in the demesne of the past, i.e. "outlets reported (2 days ago, for example - Simple Past here) that one of the Taliban leaders had died (3-4-5...days ago - Past Perfect)" - it's OK for me. I can't twig what time sphere "have prompted" (Present Perfect) belongs to.
    – Eugene
    Sep 15 at 8:31
  • I could easily perceive Past Perfect here because a spokesperson had been prompted and began to deny. The fact of his [a spokesperson] having been prompted obviously took (or had been taking) place before the outlets reported.
    – Eugene
    Sep 15 at 8:35
  • OK, I will update the answer including your assumed timelines; Hope that helps you to make sense out of that sentence.
    – Prem
    Sep 15 at 8:41
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    Thank you really. The origin of my question lies in the fundamental Grammars from which we know that, furthermore, Pres.Perfect denotes recurrent actions in a past time lapse. That is why I took in the construction "The disappearances of two top Taliban figures from public view have prompted a spokesperson to deny..." as if the spokesperson had been prompted not once or twice (for ten times in an hour, for example).
    – Eugene
    Sep 15 at 9:47
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    You should look more into the News Paper tenses and things should become clear. It seems you are wondering about two Core Issues: (1) "Prompted" should be taken to mean "Motivated", which may have happened just once and not necessarily repeatedly & (2) Present tense "have Prompted" should be Past tense "had Prompted", which is because of Historical Present or News Paper tenses.
    – Prem
    Sep 15 at 13:36

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