Afghan peace talks took a new turn for the better after the government and the Afghan Taliban went through months of back and forth to resolve a key issue in the negotiation process, the release of prisoners. Now that this is out of the way, the Taliban have asserted that it is time for foreign troops to leave, but before the US forces start their withdrawal, both regional and international stakeholders need to take stalk of the situation.

Violence still remains prevalent in the war-torn country. This is something that both sides have talked about at length, and we even saw a slight positive goodwill gesture, when a ceasefire of three days was announced after nearly a decade on Eid-ul-Azha. However, as is clear by the recent spate of attacks, a ceasefire between the government in Afghanistan and the Taliban is not nearly enough to end the damage wrought to lives and property on a daily basis.

The Islamic State remains a key—and supremely violent—actor in the country, and this is something that the negotiations between the Afghan state and the Taliban must focus on. After the US does end up leaving Afghanistan, even if both sides join forces and take on disruptive elements such as IS and other non-state actors, they will be hard-pressed to completely rout out militancy in Afghanistan easily.

As detailed over the phone by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, regional peace is only ensured if Afghanistan is truly peaceful, and not just a powder keg ready to blow at the slightest hint of provocation. All sides of the table of the Afghan negotiations should know that a long road lies ahead, one in which confronting militants and routing them out will need to be carried out in cooperation from all sides. It is hoped that the Afghan government and the Taliban are coming to terms with this fact.