On Monday, February 4, 2019, the Taliban validated the news germane to their participation in Intra-Afghan talks in Moscow, contrived to bring together Afghan stakeholders. The talks are important to chart the course for the second round of US-Taliban negotiations scheduled on 25th of this month. Given the fact that America’s bid for hasty withdrawal risks the recurrence of civil war in society, deeply divided on ethnic lines, having no viable power-sharing arrangement, this summit is pivotal to set the tone for future Intra-Afghan dialogue.The future of peace in Afghanistan is now inextricably intertwined to how the Taliban respond to the dictates of the local and the international political environment and how aptly they remember their past. In 1990s, Taliban made two grave mistakes when they managed to rule the country; their failure to transform themselves into an entity acquainted with the nuances of International political environment and resistance to embrace rival groups for the larger good of the country. During that time, the Afghan Taliban focused on strengthening their rule by means of coercion. They extirpated every symbol of dissidence and opposition. They put into practice their medieval understanding of society and larger factions of the society were excluded from the political sphere. During those years, women were banned from school and work. Non-Pashtun ethnic elite- Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks, were pretermitted from political process. Taliban’s rigidity to denounce non-Taliban power centre’s right to rule haunted them in the coming years. The internalized notion “Right to govern belongs solely to Taliban” put them in conflict with other popular centres of power. This approach alienated them in the comity of nations and failed them to achieve peace and stability. After fighting International forces for more than 17 years, Taliban now seem to be more pragmatic and their approach looks inclusive.One can justifiably argue that the prospect of peace in Afghanistan depends on Taliban’s ability to embrace opposing parties to craft a viable power sharing arrangement and to manipulate their advantageous negotiating position in favour of peace and stability in the country and beyond. The ongoing Intra-Afghan dialogue, in this vein, should prove to be a stepping stone towards a workable partnership among the concerned partiesThis time around, according to a report by Overseas Development Institute, in June 2018, Taliban governance is more coherent than ever before, high level commissions govern sectors such as health, finance, education, justice and taxation with clear chains of command and policies from the leadership. The mode of governance has largely transformed under the rein of late Mullah Akhtar Mansour. He is believed to change Taliban’s perspective regarding governance, peace and role of institutions. According to the study conducted by Ashley Jackson, “He consolidated the military and financial wings of the Insurgent group, attempting to move away from a system of patronage to that of building institutions”. This transformation is pivotal to seek a long-lasting and sustainable peace in the war-torn country. Moreover, Taliban’s view regarding other Non-Pashtun centres of power has largely shifted since last few years. Recent comments of Taliban over the future of Afghanistan noted that they are not seeking a “monopoly on power” in a future administration in Afghanistan but are looking for ways to co-exist with Afghan institutions. Ashley Jackson’s report lends credence to this statement. According to him, under Mansour’s leadership, Tajiks and Uzbeks were appointed to the Rahbari shura, or leadership council, broadening the scope of movement beyond its traditional Pashtun base.Furthermore, Taliban’s understanding of regional environment has greatly shifted. During 1990s, Taliban saw Iran with doubt and suspicion. In 1998, after the killing of nine Iranian diplomats in Mazar-e-Sharif, Iran mobilized its forces to Afghan border and nearly went to war with the Taliban. None of this has stopped Taliban to embrace Iran out of pragmatism. In a very recent development, reports of Taliban fighters being trained by the Iranian forces have emerged. Besides this, Taliban and Iranian forces have long been collaborating in the western province of Farah, bordering Iran. Concurrently, the relationship between Taliban and Russian has seen a remarkable shift. Moscow no longer sees Taliban as a security threat and views them as a legitimate stakeholder in Afghanistan. In this context, it can be argued that Afghan Taliban has, until now, left no stone unturned to make themselves acceptable to the regional stakeholders. To conclude, one can justifiably argue that the prospect of peace in Afghanistan depends on Taliban’s ability to embrace opposing parties to craft a viable power sharing arrangement and to manipulate their advantageous negotiating position in favour of peace and stability in the country and beyond. The ongoing Intra-Afghan dialogue, in this vein, should prove to be a stepping stone towards a workable partnership among the concerned parties.The author works as a Research Affiliate at Strategic Vision Institute, IslamabadPublished in Daily Times, February 8th 2019.