The Afghan Taliban have once again rejected an offer for peace talks with the government in Kabul, leaving the peace-talks effort in Afghanistan, and the actors involved in it, including Pakistan, in ambiguity about the future of this chaotic situation.

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This rigidity by the Afghan Taliban is just a series of blows to this already precarious plan for cooperation between the Taliban and the government. There had been several violations to cease-fires or peace talks conducted by Taliban and government, with a recent cease-fire by the Kabul government during the month of June still saw intensified Taliban attacks on Afghan security forces, government installations, provincial and district centres. It could not be clearer to any one that this coordination effort was falling apart.

This time, at least, the United States cannot blame Pakistan for the unsuccessful attempt at striking peace with the Taliban. President Donald Trump, and later Ambassador Alice Wells, had been implying Pakistan as the culprit for not doing enough to engage the Taliban, with Trump suspending military assistance to Pakistan. The statement by Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, however indicates another issue, as he has specified that the Taliban will not meet officials of the US-backed government, saying they will only negotiate with the United States directly about the withdrawal of all foreign forces.

The initiative is on the US now, to reach out directly to the Taliban, and the surrounding actors, like the Afghan and Pakistan government, in hopes of any peace. This should serve as a lesson, to all countries involved, that suspending military aid or isolating allies should not be the way to go about any future coordination efforts. While the peace effort may have been set back by this rejection, the door is still open and there are options on the negotiating table. The peace initiative must go on, and both US and Pakistan should commit their best efforts towards it.