It seems that the US war in Afghanistan has entered its final phase. The recent activities witnessed in the operational arena and diplomatic circles strongly point in that direction. Sometime back the media reported hundreds of US troops concentrating in areas across the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) border and sealing off the Pak-Afghan border. This operation was apparently to block the alleged cross-border movement of the Haqqani network, which is blamed for all US difficulties in Afghanistan. Immediately after this deployment, Secretary Clinton stated: The USA has the ability to go alone against the Haqqani group; this statement was interpreted in Pakistan as a warning - that America can and may embark on a ground attack in the State to flush out the militants. At the same time, Pakistans military leadership issued a statement rightly saying that Pakistan is neither Iraq, nor Afghanistan, which clearly indicated that any military operation on its soil will be resisted. More so, Clintons statements during her recent visit to Pakistan are confusing. She absolved the ISI from its alleged involvement in the attack on the US Embassy in Kabul, but called on Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network within days. Asking it to act immediately surely contradicts the go alone warning given previously; this, indeed, shrouds the reality in thick fog. Wrapping up a war effort is always difficult when the 'enemy does not accept defeat; but it is many times more difficult when the war aims are vague from the very beginning. The US war in Afghanistan falls in that ambiguous category. Ten years after Afghanistans invasion, the American intelligentsia and officials have realised that it is an unwinnable war. The Time Magazine in its issue of October 24, 2011, discusses in detail why the US cannot win this war. Richard Haas, who heads the Council of Foreign Relations, has described this war more bluntly. He said: We cant win it and it isnt worth it. In fact, the US is engaged in a mammoth military-diplomatic effort to extricate itself from this quagmire without tarnishing its 'sole superpower status. The fog being created is deliberate behind which the US is trying its utmost to find an amicable solution with a convincing 'face saving in the world. Americas Operation Enduring Freedom that commenced in 2001 has endured for 10 years without securing freedom/peace in Afghanistan. The Afghans have started comparing the prevailing environment with the peace and stability that the Taliban regime had provided, despite its failing. The US was either ignorant of, or deliberately ignored, the Afghan politico-social psyche. For instance, Afghanistan has its unique internal dynamics governing its population that neither changes, nor can be altered by alien forces. It is a unique nation-state in the world; it is a country divided in almost autonomous tribal areas loosely united under strict tribal codes. Its central authority has always been and will remain. Thus, the Americans will never be able to establish a strong central government in Kabul subservient to foreign dictates; if the US operation envisaged that kind of enduring freedom they miscalculated. Despite massive military and economic assistance, the Karzai government propped up by the US remains weak and confined to Kabul only. Also, Afghanistan is described as the 'graveyard of empires; the last nation having moved in and destroyed was the USSR, which collapsed as a union after it suffered a humiliating defeat. The USA will fare no better, if they keep pursuing their aims subjectively. Already American analysts have started counting the war costs and gains made in Afghanistan. Surely, the costs far outweigh the gains, if there are any. According to statistics given by the Time Magazine, US soldiers and contractors killed in the war stand at 2,549; an additional 14,342 service personal have been wounded in action. The cost of equipment deployed in the war zone runs in billions. The total cost in the Afghan War is almost $124 billion, which appears to be conservative estimates. Yet, the real cost may never be revealed fearing the taxpayers backlash. Moreover, the psychological trauma suffered by the troops deployed can never be priced. So, there are no politico-military gains in comparison. The security situation is at its lowest point; the recent militant attack on Kabul in which they were able to penetrate in the most heavily guarded areas of the Capital with weapons has blown USAs claim that security has been restored in Afghanistan. It is more destabilised today than it was under the Talibans. The prospects of Afghanistan reverting back to internal strife after the withdrawal of US forces are becoming more evident and American analysts believe that the country will destabilise the region by plunging into a civil war; pragmatically speaking, the USA has gained nothing. So, it is time for Pakistan to create political and diplomatic opportunities to play a constructive role in Afghanistans nation building efforts, in the post-US occupation period. The peace initiative that the APC talked about in its resolution should be put in motion now with an open-ended and flexible diplomatic skill. It must endeavour to reach out to the Talibans, the Northern Alliance leaders and other factions in Afghanistan to convince them that peace is in their and the regions political and economic interest. Pakistan should also co-opt Iran, China and India in a concerted regional effort to bring the opposing factions in the war-torn country on the negotiating table. We, in Pakistan, must appreciate that finally it will be the Afghans, who will establish a central authority in that country within its historical and cultural traditions. All we can do is try to facilitate that effort without letting the country drift back into a civil war. Pakistan should also candidly tell the US that it cannot isolate and bar some factions of the Afghan society from these negotiations. The US has to withdraw eventually; and if Islamabad fails to play its role, Afghanistan has the potential to slip back into a power war that will force regional players to take sides causing immense instability in the region in which Pakistan stands to suffer the most. The writer is an entrepreneur and economic analyst. Email: