Since President Ashraf Ghani took over the government in Kabul, one of the most anticipated developments to come out of his office could be improved relations with the Afghan Taliban after over a decade of war. As rumours about negotiations keep coming with Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah claiming that peace talks could begin in the coming days, a pertinent question regarding negotiating with terrorists comes to the surface. Why is it that negotiations with the TTP in Pakistan brought a frenzy of criticism, while peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, admittedly responsible for far more violence, are welcome developments across the board?

The reason could well lie within the political ideologies of the two organisations. Whereas the Afghan Taliban call themselves specifically Afghan in every statement that comes from their spokespersons and whereas their motivations are primarily patriotic looking to fulfil some warped nationalist agenda, the TTP stays away from any shade of nationalism. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is not a political organisation with any set stated political goals. They are in fact, an incoherent collection of various extremist factions without central control. The one thing that is common for every Afghan Taliban group, be they hard-liners or soft-liners, is their allegiance to Mullah Omar; this means all or a significant majority of them follow one single political ideology for Afghanistan. The same is not true for the Pakistani Taliban. Their agenda is non-specific, a vague and obscure, ever-changing charter of religion and violence. Negotiating with a group without one central ideology and no central control is doomed to fail, as the government of Pakistan realised last year. Because the TTP does not identify itself as a political entity, political means to negotiate the problem results in persistent deadlock. For Afghanistan however, this could be a golden opportunity to usher in a new era of stability.