Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran wish to see peace and stability in Afghanistan, whereas the US, the Afghan government and even the Taliban are opposed to it for different reasons. Last year, the Taliban had declared that it would not take part in peace talks brokered by representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States until the foreign occupation of the country ended. In fact, there was division in the Taliban after Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was elected as head of the Taliban after Mullah Omar’s demise. It was against this backdrop that Qatar-based representatives of the Taliban had rejected the negotiations that were held in Islamabad in July 2015. Apart from an internal rift within the Taliban, there are internal contradictions between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah. Anyhow, Afghan government and former Northern Alliance elements are opposed to any dialogue with the Taliban. Late Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum had created the United Front (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban that were preparing offensives against the remaining areas under the control of Massoud and those under the control of Dostum. After 9/11, when the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan, theNorthern Alliance supported the invasion and got the lion’s share in the Afghan government led by Hamid Karzai. Even today, President Ashraf Ghani is surrounded by elements from the former Northern Alliance, who do not wish for any reconciliation with the Taliban, because they will have to share power with them. On the other hand,the US is interested in the continuation of instability in Afghanistan to warrant its existence. While Washington verbally supported the negotiation process, in reality it aimed to derail it, as peace can diminish the American influence and increase the Russian and Chinese influence. The US has been accusing Pakistan of supporting the Taliban and providing safe havens particularly to Haqqani network. It has been suspicious that Pakistan plays a duplicitous role, whereas Pakistan has a point that TTP militants have been provided safe havens in eastern Afghanistan by RAW-NDS nexus, and are encouraged to attack on Pakistani posts and villages. Any attempts to put pressure on Islamabad, such as imposing sanctions, cutting aid or discarding its position as a non-NATO ally — in retribution for providing so-called safe-havens to the Afghan Taliban — would most likely push the nation further towards Russia and China It has to be mentioned that Pakistan had captured the maximum al-Qaeda operators than all other countries combined, and have lost 70,000 citizens including 6,000 military personnel. The cost of war has devastated the infrastructure, caused millions of citizens to be displaced and has affected the economy to the tune of more than $100 billion. It has cleared 48,000sq km of its soil; secured 3,500 km of lines of communication; re-established the writ of the government in these areas, allowing people to return home. But Pakistan’s government, especially theForeign Office, has not been able to convince the world about the sacrifices made by Pakistan. There is a perception that the story of the safe havens told by the US is a lie, which is reminiscent of the lie about the weapons of mass destruction that were never discovered in Iraq. President Donald Trump in his speech at Virginia, with regards to foreign policy for Afghanistan and South Asia, once again accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to the militants. He has decided to send 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan with the hope to win the war. If 150,000 American and NATO troops could not win the war in 16 years of occupation, how a total strength of 14,000 troops — in an advise-and-support capacity, not a combat role — could win back the 40 percent of space already lost to the Taliban. One can infer from it that the objective of the US is not to win the war, but to undermine Afghan peace talks initiated by Russia, China and Pakistan. As Moscow, Beijing and Islamabad have been paving the way to reduce tensions in the region, Washington is hurling threats on Pakistan over its alleged terrorism ties. But any attempts to put pressure on Islamabad, such as imposing sanctions, cutting aid or discarding its position as a non-NATO ally, would most likely push the nation further toward Russia and China. Recent developments show that, in fact, Beijing as well as Moscow appreciate Islamabad’s front-line role in fighting terrorism, and also recognize Pakistan’s invaluable sacrifices in men and money. Anyhow, the US does not wish to see peace in Afghanistan, as it wants to set up a permanent base in the war-torn Afghanistan under the pretence of fighting terrorist groups — especially ISIS — in the region. In an effort to settle the conflict by winning the war, the US is reportedly considering putting India — Pakistan’s arch rival — at the forefront of solving the Afghan crisis, economically if not militarily. This move alone is expected to draw ire from Pakistan, and further worsen US-Pakistan ties, which is fraught with dangers: and may lead to more death and destruction in the region. The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, August 30th 2017.