THE High Peace Council that President Karzai wishes to launch after Eid, to negotiate peace with the Taliban is, in principle, a step in the right direction. The military approach alone that the superpower, in its arrogance, thought could do the trick was bound to fail, the more so because it is pitted against an adversary known for resisting foreign intervention regardless of the risk to their lives. Unfortunately, however, the recourse to talks, with the baggage of stipulations attached to them but not acceptable to the Taliban, does not bode well for a return to normal conditions in Afghanistan through this process. It would cause serious difficulties for members of the council to achieve their goal of creating an atmosphere of reconciliation. It also shows that the mounting loss of life and inability to make any headway notwithstanding, the Americans are shy of admitting that they cannot win this war. For instance, the offer of talks does not take care of the most fundamental demand of the Taliban - that the withdrawal of foreign troops must precede any negotiations with the present Afghan political set-up. Even the August 2011 deadline, set by President Obama, has become uncertain since several high officials of the US Administration have been adding their 'ifs' and 'buts'. The latest one comes from Defence Secretary Gates who has remarked that even after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, they would continue to fight the Taliban, leaving it to a nonplussed world to comprehend the riddle. This is not all there is for the High Peace Council, which would consist of "jihadi leaders, influential figures and women", to resolve. Another non-starter is Mr Karzai's outlandish plan to resettle certain Taliban leaders in other Muslim countries after ensuring that they are removed from the US-maintained blacklist. What Mr Karzai and his mentors do not realise is that the side facing defeat is not in a position to set conditions and cannot exclude from the talks key resistance groups, that they intend doing. For Pakistan, however, the scenario is somewhat different. There are no foreign troops involved in fighting the supporters of Afghan resistance, which the TTP in fact are. The US must be told in clear terms that Pakistan would not accept any further drone attacks that tend to exacerbate the situation. A clean break with the war on terror, made clear to the world, would create the most suitable condition for negotiating peace with the disaffected tribesmen, our own compatriots, ending the cycle of violence in the country. Time has come to put an end to military campaigns and initiate the process of reconciliation.