The President of the United States (US) is in hot waters, at home and abroad. The fights at home – democrats’ desire to impeach Trump over his dealing with Ukraine – and the battles abroad – a trade war with China, containment of Iran, and withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan – must have made Trump understand how tiresome President’s job is. The visit of the US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to Islamabad suggests that the Trump administration is reconsidering resuming peace talks with the Afghan Taliban. Is Trump resuming the peace talks as a smokescreen to avoid the new Pandora box at home, i.e., the looming impeachment enquiry by House Democrats? Well! Who knows?
Meanwhile, a Taliban delegation has also landed in Islamabad. The visits of the key members of both the parties to Islamabad are signals of a possible resumption of the US-Taliban dialogue in the days ahead. Moreover, these recent visits show that both sides’ dependency on Pakistan to break the stalemate on some of the most critical points of the deal. What does the US want from Pakistan? Perhaps, Trump sent Khalilzad to Islamabad to ask Islamabad to exercise its influence over the Taliban to convince them of accepting the US demands of an immediate ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue.
And Taliban! They, probably, have realised that excessive reliance on violence is not the best solution at all to drive the US out of Afghanistan. But whether the Taliban have decided to show some kind of flexibility to revive the talks or they just landed in Islamabad to inform Pakistan’s leadership of the factors that derailed the discussions with the US. Even a layperson can guess that the Taliban delegation is not in Islamabad to brief Pakistani government on how the negotiations went sore. The efforts of the Taliban to use other countries’ influence to bring back the US to the talks are on the record. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the Taliban also want the peace deal to ripen that Trump had called off earlier last month.
Given the fact that both sides have made visits to Pakistan, it is not wrong to say that the US and Taliban both want to end fighting each other. Is the Trump administration concerned about the post-withdrawal Afghanistan? Perhaps, not much, as history informs us of the US indifference, it shows to any region it once leaves. Can Pakistan convince the Taliban to accept the US demands? Maybe. The Taliban desperation for resuming peace negotiations, at least, suggests so.