While the Presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to reach a peace deal in six months, they did not come to any agreement over how to make such a peace lasting and stable. At the third trilateral meeting since last July, Presidents Asif Zardari and Hamid Karzai, hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron in London, also agreed to support the opening in Doha, Qatar, of a Taliban office, which would talk to the USA. This was something Mr Karzai has previously opposed, because he feared being frozen out of the talks. However, the USA was not present in these talks, even though it plans a continued military presence. The military force will not just provide Afghan forces the training they need, but also provide a target of foreign troops to the Taliban. Hence, the desire of Pakistan and Afghanistan for peace and stability in Afghanistan coming from the two Presidents reaffirming their commitments to signing a Strategic Partnership Agreement. Mr Cameron described it as “an unprecedented level of cooperation”.

It should be noted that US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the same day that the USA would not withdraw entirely from Afghanistan at end-2014, but would retain troops there to prevent the country falling into disorder and becoming a threat to the USA. This makes Mr Cameron’s wish that the Taliban join the peace process impossible to fulfil. Pakistan should notice that the USA feels the need to talk now to the Taliban, even though it has tried to prevent it from talking to its own people in the tribal areas. Pakistan needs to convince the USA that its military option is not yielding results, while carrying out drone attacks is actually counterproductive.

The talks have shown that not only the countries occupying Afghanistan accept the key role of Pakistan in a peace process which would allow them a safe exit, but also Afghanistan. It is hoped that the agreement by Pakistan will be honoured in its election year, by the new government. As Pakistan has multiple ties with Afghanistan, this was inevitable, but it is yet to be seen whether this change in attitude will extend to the withdrawal of the occupiers, whose presence is the real cause of instability in the region.