As insecurity, generally, haunts Pakistan due to the prevailing perverse situation, most people tend to be confused about the same. One school of thought holds that we were 'outsourced' this war by the US via Musharraf. Hence we are stuck in a quagmire like our brethren in Afghanistan. Yet another group considers it as our war since foreign elements, either inspired by extremism or driven desperately by poverty or oppression at home, are enlisting the cooperation of some locals in FATA to create havoc in Pakistan. Such characters also exploit the porous Pak-Afghan border to, reportedly, help the Taliban in upping the ante within Afghanistan. If this paradigm holds good then it is incumbent on Pakistan to combat such a threat to her sovereignty. A big majority of people remains obsessed with the fear of terrorism or starvation. The president of our country, duly elected as per the constitution, has termed it as our war. Being a legitimate representative of the people who has access to all types of intelligence, his policy, per se, should prevail. Despite suffering all kinds of misery, which are inherent in the ground realities, Pakistanis should support their democratic government for now. More so when it is trying to consolidate its military operations in the affected areas despite the organisational handicaps etc. Like always in such situations, people tend to be sceptical about the claims of success made by the official quarters. Yet the democratic entity deserves to be trusted, particularly, in fighting such daunting odds as the cause being espoused is national. Such crises can only be overcome with massive support for those elected by the people to wield power. As per the world media, there is a crisis of confidence among foreign troops in Afghanistan due to the surge in 'insurgency'. This has, somehow, also badly influenced the mounting tensions in Pakistan. Seeing the worsening position of the foreign troops and consequent confusion, the American administration rather late in the day has launched Saudi King to come to terms with the Taliban. Defence Secretary Robert Gates recently asserted, "There has to be ultimately, and I'll underscore ultimately, reconciliation as part of a political outcome to this." "That's ultimately the exit strategy for all of us," he added. Until not long ago, such a statement could not fit in with the US policy-muddle in Afghanistan. It is a hopeful development which can check the spread of extremism in the area if good faith dominates the official business between the parties. Accordingly prudence demands that indiscriminate aerial bombing on suspect targets, generally, should be held in abeyance while the parleys are on. Of late, the killing of innocent civilians in such raids appears to be swelling the numbers of Taliban besides aggravating anti-US sentiments among the general population. History of Afghanistan clearly indicates that foreign forces always incite hostility among the people. As the North was the underdog under the authoritarian Taliban-regime, its warlords readily became partners of US to oust the latter. The US put all its bets on Karzai and the minorities in North to run a surrogate entity. If Bonn Conference (2002) pledges had been honoured by the US/allies, Taliban could have been politically undermined. However, as the same did not come through, despondency set in particularly in the Pashtun belt which forms the majority of the population. The Pashtuns of the country experienced a famine-like situation in 2005 which boosted the Taliban' goodwill in the area. As insecurity, joblessness rules the roost, corruption in the government all over compounded the desperation of the people to a dangerous degree. The warlords of the North wanting to extort more than their pound flesh from US' adventure started cultivating poppy massively for an ever-hungry market in Europe, Russia etc. Such a rip-off yielded Billions of dollars to them as the US was obliged to look the other way. This encouraged the starving Pashtuns to follow suit for survival and their gains are also sizeable. Sensing the potential for a breakthrough, the Taliban started cooperating with the local population in the pursuit of this venture. Being better organised than their nominal government, they also provided reliable security to such operations in the Southeast. So in addition to gaining political support among their community, they also ran into good amounts of money after 2005. A combination of these elements emboldened them to pursue a more aggressive campaign against 'occupation' which inflated the casualties of the foreign/local troops etc. This year, predictably, is the worse which has led to the Saudi initiative. Experienced journalists like Christina Lamb and Max Hastings, Michael Shanks etc have testified to the fact that the foreign troops as well as their counterparts are, generally, up-set by the deteriorating scenario in Afghanistan. Karzai remains confined to Kabul duly guarded by his US-contingent for understandable reasons while the warlords all over are, generally, indulging in rip-offs. All these things promote insecurity as well as despondency against the 'occupation' which directly as well as indirectly adds to the clout of the Taliban. The news about talks in the Saudi capital would benefit the fighters if history is any guide. All wars, generally, end with some sort of negotiations. Some like the Treaty of Versailles incite a bigger war; most reasonable settlements hold out for a long time. This is particularly true of Afghanistan. Here in no occupation has been able to hold out for long, thanks to the history, geography and the ethos. Olaf Caroe, a great authority on the region had said, "Unlike other wars Afghan wars become serious only when they are over." Christina Lamb asserts, "...I wondered what we British are actually achieving in this faraway country where all our previous engagements, since our first military expedition 170 years ago, have ended in disaster." While the US has been pursuing the option of talks for about two years, it has maintained a jingoistic media policy on the Afghan war. No wonder British Commander Carleton-Smith' statement about the Taliban gaining the upper hand in the fight was denounced as 'defeatist' by many in the West. He further stressed, "They know they can't outfight us but they clearly believe they can outlast us," which is historically valid. The on-going talks should be pursued to success in the interest of peace. Better late than never The writer is a former secretary interior E-mail: