A Pakistani intelligence official has claimed that the Taliban are expected to resume talks with the Afghan government. This affirmation of their participation is a positive development in light of the recent quadrilateral meeting in Islamabad when diplomats from four countries met to chalk out a roadmap for Afghanistan peace talks. Senior diplomats from Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States met in Islamabad on Monday and it was decided that the next round of quadrilateral talks would be held on Jan 18 in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Pakistan is expected to play an influential role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table but contrary to popular perception that the Afghan government has, it has little control over the different Taliban factions. If Pakistan did have that sort of influence it would not have to resort to an expensive and lengthy military operation in the country and would instead choose to resolve issues diplomatically. Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s faction and the Haqqani network might be considered to be more acquiescent to the pressure by Pakistan to come on the negotiating table, but no more beyond that. The success of the peace talks ultimately depends entirely on what the Afghan Government has to offer the Taliban.

Skeptics are not too hopeful of the outcomes of this ‘peace process’. Pakistan acknowledges the strong Indian influence in Afghanistan and is weary of being undermined by both allies, as has happened in the recent past. Pakistan is behaving graciously and is offering its services to mediate to end the decades long conflict in Afghanistan, and this effort should be appreciated. The entire region has much to gain from the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC) acting as the catalyst for trans-regional commerce, trade, industry and investment. But it can only do so if there is long lasting peace in the region and India and Afghanistan both should well remember that before entering the negotiations.

Afghan officials are keen to come to an agreement that would at least reduce bloodshed before the usual fighting season kicks off in April.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is under intense pressure at home to deliver on his controversial strategy of going through Pakistan to hold talks with the Taliban. Hopefully he has more strategies up his sleeve to make this venture a successful one, instead of solely relying on Pakistan to accomplish all that he cannot.