Af-Pak is a strange acronym; it tries to cover the two entirely different countries in a single policy statement and strategy. It is not the straight view of some idealist; Af-Pak is rather a complicated issue. The complexity is further pronounced once the policy made for two, only considers the sensitivities of a single country. Is it imperial hubris or the arrogance of a superpower which rules the roast? The situation in Afghanistan is not very stable as is being depicted in the US military estimates and surveys. There are four players at this chessboard: Afghanistan, Pakistan, the USA and the Taliban. Taliban is the common denominator in any negotiable arrangement; the next is Pakistan which has the physical access to rest of the three, thanks to its geography. The problem here is more of geographical nature than that of a political one. Firstly, Afghanistan is still a quagmire of political chaos. Karzai is trying to establish his writ outside Kabul, and he is usually termed as the governor of Kabul rather than being taken as the President of Afghanistan. Karzais brother is a factor which is eroding his authority due to massive corruption. The recent strikes of ISAF and NATO forces in which innocent people were killed is proving to be the most irreconcilables for the people of Afghanistan. The tribal hue of Afghan people is not a minus in this calculus of gaining power. The biggest handicap is the absence of a political authority. Even before initiating any political process, there is a need to increase the literacy rate so that the awareness level increases to a stage where the social contract seems plausible. The division of Afghan society in small ethnic segments is actually the problem. Linguistic divide is another one where the people of Turkish origin, Iranian origin or the Central Asian are standing quite far apart. The ethnographers only highlight the Pashtun factor and its link with Pakistan as the problem. Approaches like these are the real roadblocks in solving the Afghan issue. Secondly, the Taliban are also a big factor that must not be ignored. The Taliban are using Toyota mini trucks, Kalashnikovs, and two pounds of dry ration. And with this they are engaging the worlds best armies. They use IEDs (improvised explosive devices) against troops, suicide bombing against innocent people and target killing against prominent persons who disturb their matrix. There are reports that for the first time, the USA is serious to engage Taliban in negotiations. For this the services of Turkish government are sought which is ready to grant Taliban an office on Turkish soil. The Saudis are also these days busy on two issues; one using their influence on Afghan Taliban to have talks with Americans and on the other hand helping Pakistan government in solving the Raymond Davis issue. The fourth player of this great game i.e. Pakistan is perplexed over what to do with the burden of history which has different shades from that of Indian to the Afghan invaders. The situation further complicates when it is found that there is no clear cut counterinsurgency or counterterrorism policy of Pakistan. Military cannot be left alone to fight the war of the survival of this country with teeming millions. The solution of the Afghan problem lies in consensus-politics, and respect for each others sensitivity. ABID LATIF SINDHU, March 16.