Special Envoy Marc Grossman in his efforts to improve strained ties between Pakistan and the United States, post Abbottabad, would do well to listen to former Special Envoy Richard Holbrookes advice from beyond the grave, in the form of his diary entries and jottings, now with his spouse, Kati Marton. Contained in Holbrookes writings is his uncensored appraisal of the situation in Afghanistan, which he likened to Vietnam because of the overemphasis on military strategy instead of diplomacy, a flaw he identified as common in both in conflicts: There are structural similarities between Afghanistan and Vietnam. According to his widow, as reported in New York Times, Reconciliation that was what he was working toward in Afghanistan, and building up the civilian and political side that had been swamped by the militaryRichard never thought that this war could be won on the battlefield. Holbrooke is credited for helping end the war in Bosnia in 1995, with the Balkan peace deal, crafted at the military base in Dayton, Ohio. He envisioned something similar for the Afghanistan of 2011 a peace deal and vision for the region, which would include a buy-in from all regional players, including Iran and Pakistan. A member of his team at the State Department, Vali Nasr remembers, He understood from his experience that every conflict has to end at the negotiating table. Pulitzer- prize winning author of the New York Times column containing these revelations and Holbrookes friend Nicholas D. Kristof writes: As for Pakistan, Holbrooke told me and others that because of its size and nuclear weaponry, it was center stage; Afghanistan was a sideshow. Jotted in Holbrookes diary, is the succinct and simple observation, A stable Afghanistan is not essential; a stable Pakistan is essential. He believed, Kristof observes, that a crucial step to reducing radicalism in Pakistan was to ease the Kashmir dispute with India, and he favoured more pressure on India to achieve that. When India made known in early 2009 its discomfort over the possibility that Holbrooke would address the Kashmir issue, Washington swiftly allayed concerns, with a State Department official spokesperson stating in no uncertain terms, it (Kashmir) is not in his (Holbrooke) mandate. Even after Richard Holbrookes demise, his notes in his diary show a structure of exit from the Afghanistan war and a way to stabilise Pakistan, which most Pakistanis, including circles of Government, Opposition and Armed Forces would agree upon as a way forward and which would improve the US image in Pakistan at a time when it really needs it. Mr Grossman, should take note, Kashmir is the key to winning the war in Afghanistan, as well as the long abandoned war to win hearts and minds.