The seventh round of peace talks that started between the American and Taliban officials in Doha has given hope to both sides for a breakthrough. At least, this is the official position. While the focus of the latest round of negotiations is to reach a provisional schedule for American troops to leave Afghan soil, the Afghan mainland is bleeding from the attacks of militants, which can be seen as a continuation of the spring offensive of Taliban that started early April this year.

Even when the United States (US) and Taliban were having fresh negotiations, a spate of attacks on Friday and Saturday resulted in heavy casualties for both the Afghan government and Taliban. These attacks reveal that the hope and optimism that both sides showed at the dialogue table is fragile and Afghanistan will see no immediate reduction in violence. Whenever the Taliban and US go for negotiations, the Taliban bring intensity in their attacks.

The recent attacks are a continuation of the tactics of the Taliban. They try to use such battlefield gains to exert pressure on the American deal brokers. The US military also tries to minimise the pressure that Taliban attacks create while peace talks undergo by assisting Afghan forces in ramping up commando raids and aerial strikes against Taliban insurgents. However, it seems that both sides have developed immunity to the ground operations and attacks, as American diplomats and Taliban officials, according to sources, appeared relaxed while wrapping up the first day of the talks.

The direction in which things are going shows that the US wants to find a face-saving exit from Afghanistan, whereas the Taliban are in no hurry. The fact that negotiations have gone to the seventh round and the ground offensive the group launched this April show that the Taliban are not exhausted. While for the present US administration, time may of the essence, the Taliban have no shortage of time. Zalmay Khalilzad’s comment at the end of the sixth round of the talks last month, “the current pace of talks isn’t sufficient… We need more and faster progress,” indicates how eager the US is to get out of Afghanistan.

Furthermore, a change in Taliban’s approach towards Ghani’s government participation in peace talks is also evident: from calling Ghani government a puppet of the US to having a dialogue with the Afghan government only after the US withdraws from Afghanistan. Will the recent round of talks between the two sides give a breakthrough before Afghanistan’s September presidential election? Nothing can be said with conviction.