Convincing Taliban to sit on a dialogue table with the Afghan government as one of the parties to the peace process is a herculean task. Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday met Pakistan’s Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other Pakistani officials to revive the peace process with the Taliban. It is encouraging that America has dropped its obstinate policy of not negotiating with the Taliban. Even though a political narrative to this effect exists, nothing has been done on the ground that suggests seriousness on America’s part.

Given that elections in Afghanistan are approaching and Taliban had already indicated to disrupt the electoral process, the American resolve for talks should not be limited to ensure safe elections. As dialogue remains the only viable option that can bring peace, security and stability to Afghanistan, what needs to be seen is if the American offer is for short-term gains or it sincerely wants an end to the Afghan conflict.

The Afghan war has already entered its eighteenth year with no end in sight anytime soon. The only way forward to end the war in Afghanistan is holding a dialogue. It is about time for the US to accept the Taliban’s demand to engage in one-on-one discussions. Such an engagement will help the US understand the Taliban’s position better. At a later stage, America can insist on inclusion of the Afghan government to ensure the longevity of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, as reiterated by the FM, has always made efforts to ensure peace in the region. Pakistan is a firm believer in the effectiveness of the dialogue process. Islamabad can also play a very constructive role in convincing the Taliban to accept the Afghan government as a party to the negotiations. Taliban also need to keep the fact in mind that dialogue on its own cannot ensure stability to Afghanistan. A policy of inclusion of all stakeholders can end the sufferings of the Afghan nation.