More dialogue and action
There are obvious signs of improvement in Pakistan- Afghanistan relations as well as relations between the US and these two countries. Among the factors responsible for the positive development is the recently elected leadership in Kabul and the army leadership in Pakistan. External factors that have contributed to the change include brutal attacks by the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the realisation of the gravity of the threat posed by the ISIS not only by Islamabad and Kabul but also by China and some of the Gulf countries which had been financing the extremist organisations. It is understood by Islamabad and Kabul that neither of them would be safe unless they join hands to eradicate terrorist networks operating from both sides of their border. Pakistan is also helping Kabul to hold dialogue with the Afghan Taliban. The efforts by the two sides would however be judged from the results they produce.
Criticism from the Republicans that Obama is beating a hasty and risky retreat has led Washington to review its current plan to halve the 10,000 American soldiers by December 2015 and cut that number to near zero by December 2016. President Ashraf Ghani has also suggested changes in the timeline for the drawdown. China has shown readiness to support Kabul-Taliban reconciliation while representatives of Afghan Taliban have visited Beijing. The leadership of the network is however keeping its cards close to its chest. Meanwhile, it continues to reiterate the maximalist position of no parleys till the foreign troops leave the country. Pakistan needs to concentrate on terrorists on its own territory while improving relations with Kabul. Siddiq Ahmed Larkana