Both the US and the Afghan government had considered Mullah Mansour’s death in Pakistan, in a drone attack, a great success.  Mullah Mansour, the Taliban Ameer, was considered a spanner in the peace process initiated by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group – comprising Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the US. Lately, heavy causalities inflicted on the US and Afghan forces and other civilians had raised many questions about the relevance of the US presence in Afghanistan.  Instead of finding the reasons inside Afghanistan, where an unpopular government has been installed causing the Taliban's ire to continue, the US is raising fingers at Pakistan for supporting the Taliban.  Even though Pakistan has denied having a direct influence on the leadership of Afghan Taliban, it has accepted its part in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

In its 15 years, and with the footprints of world’s finest army, the war has ravaged Afghanistan, giving birth to more terrorism than putting an end to it. 

Like any other war, this war needs an end too without using more guns.  In 2015, the Murree peace process was initiated to engage the Taliban to ‘bridge trust deficit’ between the Afghan government and the Taliban.  No sooner did the process begin Mullah Omer, Taliban’s former Ameer, hiding in Pakistan was pronounced dead. The atmosphere grew sombre and acrid when it was disclosed that Omar had died some two years back. 

Without a leader and with the Taliban finding it hard to galvanize support for a consensual leader, the peace process stalled.  Mullah Mansour, the new head of the Afghan Taliban, who had been blamed for keeping the news of Omer’s death in shrouds, found himself unpopular as the new leader.

Mansoor had been reluctant to initiate peace talks with the US or the Afghan government. Things got complicated as more destruction loomed over Afghanistan. The US and its allies could not turn the tide of terrorism that had worsened with the Islamic State creating space for itself in Afghanistan.

Obama is said to have given consent to kill Mansour since he was considered the perpetrator, the instigator, and the provocateur of crime against the US mission in Afghanistan. Mansoor’s death was regarded a stern warning to anyone who would oppose Afghan peace dialogue. The unusual thing to happen, in this hunt and kill game, was the place where Mansour had been killed while his itinerary added gradation to the fact that the Taliban had friends other than Pakistan to support the former’s cause in the region. Mansour was killed in Pakistan while he was returning from Iran.

Islamic State’s presence in Afghanistan, when radicals from different militant groups had defected to the new setup, raised spectres with the Taliban. It provided the Taliban the impetus to embrace Iran to thwart the imminent threat of IS’ rise. To make the corporation relevant, the Taliban had stopped attacking the Hazaras (from Shia sect) in Afghanistan and condemned the IS and other militant factions for any such atrocities.

Neither was there anything new about a Taliban leader’s visit to Iran nor was there anything unusual about Mansour’s presence in Pakistan. Still both the destinations made headlines in international media, the intention being to malign Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis terrorism.

Last year, in May 2015, a Taliban delegation led by Tayyab Agha visited Iran.   The Taliban leaders comprised members from the political bureau in Quetta.  It was not the first time that the Taliban went to Iran to meet its leadership. In 2013, the Taliban attended an Islamic ‘vigilance’, conference hosted by Iran. 

The Iranian mission had been equally interested in keeping the Taliban engaged.   

Iran has been fighting IS through its militia in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. To curtail the IS by 2015 Iran had spent almost one billion dollars in military aid to Iraq, had sent 1,000 military advisors, and conducted as many airstrikes against the IS.  The last thing that Iran wanted was IS’ presence in Afghanistan where the militants could penetrate Iran.

This spectrum of events is an indication that to stop the repeat of Iraq’s fate in Afghanistan, the strategy adopted by the Taliban and Iran to combat the IS is, after all, in the best interest of both the groups.  The intervention of the US in Afghanistan in a new role of finding a peace mission without understanding the regional dynamic will further fuel the situation. There is a growing discontent among the Taliban over the death of Mullah Mansour with the result that the new leadership might as well boycott the peace process.

If the US has the intention to clean the mess it has created in Afghanistan the solution then lies with letting the Taliban define its role in the region according to the emerging situation and not by killing its leaders on a whim. 

For some reasons the signals so far received indicate that the US is not interested in leaving Afghanistan for which it need to keep the Taliban on the edge.