The Afghan negotiation process is one that stops and starts, and has several wrinkles that need to be smoothened before the fighting finally ends after nearly two decades of conflict. The meeting between the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan here at home will hopefully help in the efforts to find more common ground.
The situation as it stands is this; 8600 US troops remain in Afghanistan, and President Trump has announced that a further 4000 will be brought back home around the Presidential elections in November. The Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government are finally having discussions over prisoner release, as a result of the February 29 peace agreement signed by the Afghan Taliban and the US.
However, as is to be expected, none of the negotiating parties look to be happy with the terms being brought forward. The Afghan government feels that it has often been left out in the cold. The Afghan Taliban on the other hand, might think that they have made too many concessions already, even though the US and allies believe that not enough has been conceded. It must be remembered, that the Taliban were initially refusing to engage in any sort of talks before a complete pullout; a stance that has softened over time. This tells us that all sides have come a long way from where they once were.
Sadly for us here in Pakistan, the situation remains stagnant. The US and other countries continue to point fingers at the state, as if Pakistan has any real hold over the Afghan Taliban leadership. This accusation becomes a blatant contradiction on part of the Afghan government, because on one side there is the label of “safe havens” being used without evidence. On the other, Pakistan’s efforts to control any form of militant activity on its soil through border fencing is decried as unjust. And in this aspect, the pattern must change. Pakistan and its people have sacrificed too much against terrorism—more than most—and this meeting only shows how willing we are to end the conflict in our neighbouring country as soon as possible. It is hoped that all the stakeholders recognise this fact.