For some time, it seemed there were strict binaries of allyships already formed in the subcontinent region, with the United States (US), India and Afghanistan becoming increasingly isolated from Pakistan. Although all sides were attempting negotiation, since all the countries are mired together in the endless fight against terrorism, there seemed to be a constant deadlock and on all corners, we were hitting a dead wall. It seems however now that a hole may be formed in the wall as some hope for a solution with Afghanistan taking a major step towards an Islamabad-Kabul agreement.

Afghanistan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, the second most powerful man in the country, has said that Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has a foothold in Afghanistan and did so by taking advantage of the instability created by the insurgents fighting the Afghan government. His acknowledgement of the TTP’s foothold in Afghanistan is the first by an Afghan leader and backs Pakistan’s claim that the Pakistani Taliban are using their camps in Afghanistan to launch attacks into Pakistan. He also rejected the suggestion that friendly relations between Pakistan and China was a cause of concern for Kabul.

This is a welcome admission that should allow both countries to communicate more frankly on joint issues, and is especially a hopeful sign, considering the deadlock on peace talks with the Taliban, and after the passive-aggressive move of Kabul of postponing trade talks with Islamabad. The admission on China particularly paves the way out of a China-Pakistan alliance against an Afghan-India-US block, and indicates that the Afghan government wants to improve its relations with Pakistan.

More importantly, it gives an extra dimension to Pakistan's ongoing outreach to the US - which is still not out of troubled waters – before US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis is scheduled to visit. Pakistan and the US have been embroiled in a he-said-she-said argument of sorts, with both sides blaming each other for not doing enough on terrorism. This tension exacerbated during the visit of United States Central Command (Centcom) Commander Gen Joseph Votel, where again, there was a deadlock between both sides on who was the one who was not reciprocating in the efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

To the US’s redundant instructions to improve relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan had always responded with emphasizing the absence of Kabul’s writ on Afghan territory that was allowing terrorists to carry out their activities. Abdullah’s admissions now give more weight to Pakistan’s argument that it is reaching out to Afghanistan, but US help in defeating the powerful forces which controlled almost half of Afghanistan was insufficient.