A New York Times report entitled “US abandoning hopes for a Taliban deal” that centres on the opinion of the US generals and other officials is a damning indictment of the outcome of the war in Afghanistan. It is clear enough that as Nato will soon be pulling out, the very purpose for which it ventured there – that of defeating the Taliban – has come to naught. The report categorically asserts that the US has now given up hope for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban militias, referred by one senior coalition official as “a very resilient enemy”. It is hence banking on the Afghan National Army, the Taliban as well as Pakistan hoping they will clean up the mess by themselves, once the coalition forces are out. The growing strength of the Taliban resulting in some of the deadliest attacks in a decade, as well as the insider attacks cannot be hidden. But that the blowback effects of the decades’ long war gone wrong doesn’t hold a promising prospect for future either. It makes Pakistan’s indispensability in the entire equation beyond doubt. Its task is difficult; for it would have to help the Afghans seek a political solution to achieve normalcy at a juncture where it has to look for solutions to its own domestic problems.

The US too has realised the futility of trying to operate militarily in Afghanistan indefinitely. The only prescription to avoid further bloodshed is to adhere to the 2014 deadline and not leave behind any troops, combat or non-combat.