Afghan Deputy Chief Executive Muhammad Khan has said that a statement of the US government terming the Taliban “important partners” did not carry significance. The statements by the Afghan government shows a clear divide between US strategy in Afghanistan and the Afghan government. This will not bode well for the sitting government, who will have to drastically realign their politics and political rhetoric vis a vis Pakistan, if the Afghan Taliban are going to be seen as a legitimate political entity by the US.

The Pentagon spokesman had stated that the US viewed Taliban as important partners in a peaceful Afghan-led reconciliation process. The Afghan government is rightly irritated. If Taliban are important partners in Afghan peace process, then why did the US have to fight a 10 years of war to eliminate them? Taliban were already ruling Afghanistan when the US invaded after 9/11. Taliban should have been allowed to rule then - unless there is change in belief on the part of the US that the Taliban have reformed into democracy-loving protectors of individual rights. Did the US not just bomb a hospital in Kunduz to kill Taliban fighters?

But everything that the US says needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The US is not conducting ‘counter-terrorism’ operations against the Taliban, because it is focusing on the Al Qaeda and IS. The Taliban are not friends at all, but a pawn in the beginning of a US withdrawal from the region. The mess in the Middle East will keep the US occupied for decades. It would rather slip out of Afghanistan, whatever way it can.

Additionally, as much trouble as the Taliban have been, if they have popular support, they can reformulate their image as a legitimate political entity and can thus challenge the power of the official government. But the problem is that these are not political battles, they are physical ones over territorial control. Any entity, no matter how big or popular, should not be allowed to challenge or attack the state- and in that the official government is right in its indignation. From attacks on Parliament, to battles for control over cities, the Taliban’s methods are wrong.

The present Afghan government is made up of the elements that were defeated by the Taliban to stabilise country after the collapse of the USSR. The bad blood between them will continue, and no foreign power will be able to bring peace or order here - not the US, not India, not Pakistan - if history has taught us anything.