AT long last after seven years and a half into fighting the militants in Afghanistan, the US is realising the need for integrating in the political mainstream of the country those elements that are not committed to the philosophy of Al-Qaeda. In simpler terms, persisting with the war against a fiercely independent people who would not countenance foreign occupation would backfire. The military surge has to be replaced with a political surge and the 'good fighters' have to be engaged in negotiations. If President Obama is to be believed the US should be planning to make an exit at some time. After all, highest number of GIs has died in the war in recent months. Thus, Special Envoy Holbrooke has followed Secretary Clinton in saying that those who renounce their links with extremist forces and lay down their arms would be acceptable. In fact, there are reports of the Americans already in contact with "the tribal groupings of the Taliban foot soldiers" in Helmand, Uruzgan, Paktia and Paktika provinces. At the same time, UK Foreign Secretary Miliband, whose country has lost a record 22 soldiers in Afghanistan this month, has said that including 'moderate Taliban' in dialogue could help restore stability. It should be noted that the latest opinion polls in Britain (following the record number of deaths of soldiers) find a majority of people against continuing the military operation. It is worth recalling that negotiations were what Washington had been opposing whenever Islamabad took that road in the past, accusing it of hobnobbing with militants, but Secretary Clinton now calls upon Pakistan "to consider" a similar arrangement with the Pakistani Taliban. Strangely, however, Pakistani officials have been quoted as saying that they see no distinction between the good Taliban and the bad. They need to revisit the option. The country cannot afford to take inherently peaceful and patriotic citizens and distinction has to be made between the intractable lot and those who could be brought in the mainstream. Afghan President Karzai has also lauded the idea terming it as "the most effective approach to bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan". Already, the military campaign in Swat has landed the country with over two million displaced persons whose return and rehabilitation constitutes a stupendous task. While Mr Holbrooke is right in prodding the Europeans into sparing more money for this cause, the US donation of $330 million, fairly sizeable no doubt, is hardly commensurate with its commitment against terrorism.