Ever since Afghanistan and Pakistan parted company they have continued to drift apart. This is making the task of the eradication of terrorism from the region more complicated. In his last communication with Nawaz Sharif, Ashraf Ghani had had demanded the arrest of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan and an operation against the Haqqani network. Months later Nawaz Sharif told Ashraf Ghani that asking Pakistan to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table and at the same time take action against them were contradictory demands. As things stand Pakistan is fighting its own terrorists in North Waziristan and is reluctant to put more on its plate than it can chew. Both China and the US have praised Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war though the US insists there should be no cherry picking during the ongoing operation.
The Afghan government faces a dilemma. It says it would prefer to hold direct talks with the Taliban as it does not trust Pakistan. It has however been unable to make any headway. Meanwhile the Taliban continue to bleed the Afghan army. With Kabul seeking four Russian helicopters from India to deal with the insurgency, New Delhi too is trying to increase its influence in Afghanistan. But India being opposed all along to talks with the Taliban is unable to play a role in facilitating the talks with the religious militia.
On the face of it, the US stand on Taliban seems to be more in proximity to Pakistan’s than Afghanistan’s policy. While a powerful lobby in Afghanistan would like someone to altogether eliminate the Taliban, the US considers the network important partners in a peaceful Afghan-led reconciliation process. Pentagon maintains it is not conducting counter terrorism operations against the Taliban.
Whatever possible moves might have been undertaken by the US and China to heal the rift between Afghanistan and Pakistan, they have so far failed to produce the desired results. All eyes are fixed on the Heart of Asia Conference scheduled to be held in Islamabad next month.