The precondition set by the Afghan Taliban to resume peace talks with the government of Afghanistan is one that cannot be accepted without carefully thinking the consequences through. The militant group wants the names of its members removed from the UN blacklist that makes them unable to travel. While the willingness to talk amid growing strength is a positive from the Taliban, allowing them the freedom to travel might spell new trouble for the global community.

Even though the Afghan Taliban has been made stronger by the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country, it is losing political space to Daesh. The increase in the number of attacks in Afghanistan in recent times cannot be solely attributed to Taliban forces; the attack on the Pakistan Embassy for instance, was claimed by IS. Handing out options for the Afghan Taliban to carve more space wherever the inclination takes them is not going to bode well on the international stage. Apart from this, the Afghan Taliban is still not displaying the keenest of interests in the talks’ process. At the same time, removing travel restrictions only opens channels that can be closely monitored. So this measure can be used as a gesture of goodwill.

On the domestic front, it is becoming increasingly clear that the militants who pose the greatest threat to Pakistan are taking refuge in Afghanistan. Mullah Fazlullah, Umar Mansoor and other key leaders of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fled the country ever since the beginning of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, and know that they do not need to come back to orchestrate attacks on this side. The Army claims that the militants involved in the attack on Bacha Khan University crossed over from the Torkham border; the state clearly needs to do something about the porous border if it wants the attacks to come an end. It is important to realise that suicide bombers and those directly involved in the attack are a dime a dozen, and easily replaced. The leaders are crucial; the divisions caused by the death of Hakeemullah Mehsud of TTP and Mullah Omar of the Afghan Taliban are there for all to see. It seems as if the current leadership is still only treating negotiations as a last option. This wait-and-see approach must change, and the only way that will happen is through beating the offensive back. The Afghan government cannot succumb to this precondition in the current climate. Lifting the travel ban should only take place after the Taliban declare a ceasefire to prove that they are also taking this seriously.