The Pak-Afghan relations has been rejuvenated with the invitation of President Ashraf Ghani to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to discuss bilateral action to end the war on terror in Afghanistan. One of the primary proposals is to renew talks with the Taliban.

Under the new chant of “let’s end the war instead of winning it”, the proposal of talks with the Taliban is a fair starting point. This will establish a fair ground for both countries to work on and increase the cooperation to reduce cross border terror attacks.

However one aspect of these talks that they must accept is the involvement of America in the process. There is no doubt about the fact that the Taliban consider the US as the main perpetrator of the war and witnesses it as the only power capable of bringing an end to it; so both Pakistan and Afghanistan need to get US on the same table as well. This would also mean reevaluating the airstrikes and the role played by the special force in the region. At the same time, this also means acknowledging the effort that will go on each end. The problem for the longest time, something that affected Pakistan adversely, was the lack of acknowledgment of the efforts to end terror.

This cooperation should also involve identifying the enemies. If all the countries involved know their enemies, this will not halt the process midway because both sides have different enemies. This move should also involve working on the Afghan state itself. A state can never regain legitimacy and power without any work being done to establish important pillars of the state. If a politician reconciliation is being sought with the Taliban, empowering the Afghan state is the foremost step which needs to be taken. Pakistan on its end also needs to integrate its belts to ensure no terrorist penetration.

The entire process is easier said than done. The Taliban are not necessarily meshed into a system of hierarchy. The local, provisional, regional and national fronts that they have, often work independently. If points of contact are established, this will also involve uncovering many corrupt officials. Both states need to be adept to deal with that. And also ensure that pragmatic Taliban integrate peacefully and honourably into the system.

At the same time, it must also be considered that the entire process depends on the willingness of the Taliban; who are yet to respond to the proposal.