THE London Conference was not expected to deliver much and that is how it went. However, some interesting developments did take place including the agreement by all present to accept and support Afghan efforts to reach out to the "moderate" Taliban and convince them to renounce violence through economic offers including jobs and so on. This is clearly the beginning of a process of bringing the US and the Taliban into a dialogue also and this has been reflected in the UN decision to remove some of the Taliban leaders from their Terrorist List. Ironically, Pakistan has been in the forefront of this conciliatory policy for Afghanistan and Foreign Minister Qureshi also declared in London that militant Afghan Pushtun groups had to be taken into consideration and that Pakistan was willing to mediate between the Western Alliance and Taliban if asked to do so. He pointed out that this approach was necessary to drive a "wedge" between the moderates and hardliners. If the Pakistan government is willing to proactively support dialogue with the militants in Afghanistan, it seems absurd for it to continue down a purely military-centric approach in Pakistan without attempting any dialogue with Pakistani militants so that the same "wedge" can be driven between the moderates and hardliners in Pakistan also. Now that MS Clinton has also stated, in London, that "you have to be prepared to engage your enemies" in an insurgency, Pakistan should not go against this new wave of realism and pragmatism on Afghanistan. Pakistan also showed at London that if it is prepared to take a stand on crucial issues, it can get its way. It was at its insistence that India was kept out of the loop. Pakistan had made it clear to all the visiting US officials that it was simply not prepared to see a role for India in Afghanistan. The British are still hankering after a role for India in Afghanistan but they could not get their way at London. Apart from the Taliban issue, there was little else that was new at the Conference and again the very real issue of maladministration and corruption was simply skimmed over and no real effort was made to tackle it head on. It is also unfortunate that Iran did not attend because without the support of all the neighbouring states, peace cannot return to Afghanistan. Iran, like Pakistan, is not only a neighbour that has sheltered Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion but also has cultural and historic links with Afghanistan, and it cannot be ignored on Afghanistan's future. Afghanistan said at London that it would seek Pakistan and Saudi help to bring in the Taliban into dialogue but Iran cannot be sidelined either. Effectively the most important aspect of the London Conference lay in this being the first move towards paving a respectable exit for the US from its failed Afghan policy.