The recent exchange of appreciative remarks between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US gives the confounding impression that the three countries have not spent the last decade accusing each other of playing double games, employing proxies and pursuing divergent interests. Withdrawal of NATO from Afghanistan, formation of the Ashraf Ghani-led unity government, military operations in Pakistan and cross-border terrorism – have put the three in a position where they’re all better off wanting the same thing; dialogue with the Afghan Taliban.

It is unlikely that the US will allow the Afghan government and Taliban to reach a settlement that doesn’t take into account its concerns in the region. Direct involvement or attempts to influence outcome may derail the entire process. The same goes for Pakistan. President Ghani would appreciate its role as a facilitator but attempts to capitalise on the situation by using influence over the Afghan Taliban will not be viewed positively by Kabul. At the end of the day, it will have to be a deal acceptable to Afghan entities.

Pakistan will have to do more to find a way to push the hardliner Afghan Taliban leadership present in its territory and embedded in sections of its society into Afghanistan and make the Afghan government responsible for it. President Ashraf Ghani is stuck in a precarious situation, as he remains vulnerable to attacks on domestic fronts. If Pakistan doesn’t act considerably faster than it has done till now, it will find Ghani becoming increasingly persuasive.

Pakistan is very much reliant on Afghanistan to act against TTP leadership operating from its territory. While the Afghan Taliban may have a role in Afghanistan’s future –a decision left to be made by Afghanistan – the TTP cannot be allowed to exist. It will have to do all it can to ensure that the Afghan Taliban play ball with President Ghani or find themselves run out of friends. It may then demand reciprocation in the form of action against TTP and other anti-Pakistan militants operating from Afghan territory.