At a seminar in Washington D.C. last week, Lisa Curtis, a deputy assistant to U.S. President Donald Trump and senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council said, “we have asked for Pakistan’s assistance in facilitating a peace process and we have sought to understand Pakistan’s own core security concerns and ensure that its interests are taken into account in any peace process.” Exactly a week after she made this statement, a U.S. drone strike targeted and successfully killed TTP chief Mullah Fazllulah in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

A day before Eid, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed the death of Fazlullah in a telephone call to COAS General Qamar Bajwa and PM Nasirul Mulk. Many in Pakistan are rejoicing at the news of his death and for good reason. He was the monster responsible for planning the December 16, 2014 massacre at the Peshawar Army Public School. Fazlullah was also responsible for countless other acts of terrorism, including the attack on Malala Yousafzai and her schoolmates, the burning of schools, and a number of beheadings. Fazlullah was a coldblooded terrorist who wanted to impose his interpretation of the Sharia law in Pakistan. In Swat, he was called “Mullah Radio” or “Mullah FM” because of his hateful sermons, broadcast over the radio.

Fazlullah escaped capture by the Pakistani military in 2009, when he fled Swat for Afghanistan. In 2013, he was appointed the leader of the TTP following the death of Hakeemullah Mehsud, who was also killed in a US drone strike.

Pakistani officials have long claimed that the TTP leadership takes refuge in Afghanistan and has safe havens there, from which they plan and carry out terrorist attacks. The killing of Fazlullah in the Kunar province vindicates that claim. For many years now, Pakistani officials have pleaded with Afghan and American officials to take action against the TTP in Afghanistan, until now, the US largely ignored their requests, fearing TTP retaliation against US troops, leading to growing mistrust.

The US hopes that this action will win them favor in Pakistan and will convince Pakistan to do Washington’s bidding in Afghanistan. In the past, Pakistan has been called upon to help negotiate a peaceful resolution to the now two decade old war between the US and Afghan Taliban. More than once, Pakistan has been burnt both by Afghanistan and the United States, accused of double-dealing, and used as a scapegoat for their own failures in the country.

This is not the first time a US drone strike has taken out a TTP leader, in fact since 2004, there have been seven prominent TTP leaders that have been killed by the Americans. Each time, Pakistan begged, relentlessly for action, based on credible intelligence. The Americans have always acted when it has suited them and have always asked for something in return. This transactional relationship between Pakistan and the United States has existed since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and continues to play out the same way to this day.

In Pakistan, pundits and commentators have rejoiced at Mullah Fazlullah’s death and are calling it a new beginning in relations with Afghanistan and the US. But they forget that we have been through this circus before, many times. Each time it is Pakistan that ends up suffering far greater than any other party involved.

In Afghanistan, the government has announced a ceasefire with the Taliban and is working tirelessly to ensure that it results in a lasting peace. There is no doubt that Pakistan supports this renewed effort by both the Afghan government and the Taliban. But we must limit our involvement. This is not a matter for Pakistan. It is the sole responsibility of the Afghan government and the US to negotiate a political settlement. In the past, Pakistan has directly involved itself in negotiations on the behest of the Americans, and each time, the Americans and the Afghans have pulled out of their commitments, leaving Pakistan embarrassed, and eventually blaming Pakistan for their failure to peacefully bring an end to the long war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan must remain neutral and be wary of any attempts by the Americans or Afghans to pull them in directly into their negotiations. The day the Afghan government and the Taliban announced extending the ceasefire beyond the Eid holidays, ISIS carried out a car bombing, killing at least 26 Afghans. Pakistan must remain vigilant to make certain that as the negotiations go forward in Afghanistan that no extremist elements are able to cross over into Pakistani territory. The fact of the matter is that terrorism poses a great threat to both countries. For the sake of sustainable peace, Afghanistan and the United States must learn to deal with their own problems in Afghanistan without involving Pakistan. And Pakistan should remain committed to providing advice and assistance as long as it does not force them to directly get involved.

The writer is an Assistant Professor at NUST.

Pakistan must remain neutral and be wary of any attempts by the Americans or Afghans to pull them in directly into their negotiations.