The vast swathes of Afghan territories have never been at peace. Therefore, it is often termed the ‘graveyard of empires’. Throughout the chequered history of Afghanistan, the country has seen extreme bloodshed, chaos and mayhem. The United States’ 17-year long War on Terror has become a nightmare for common Afghans. Washington decided to withdraw forces from Afghan land during the Obama presidency in 2014, yet the presence of 14,000 troops under the pretext of training afghan security forces is still responsible for the current sorry state of affairs in Afghanistan. Due to the presence of American forces, the war-ravaged country has failed to recover from war.The Afghan region continues to be a significant and consequential part of the Anglo-Russian great game. Not only this, many other world powers are extending their clout into Afghanistan in order to achieve their overt and covert objectives. In this regard, two countries are extremely important. India is building a soft image in Afghanistan by investing in many underdeveloped areas. For instance, building parliament infrastructure, schools, hospitals, connecting Afghanistan to the Chabahar maritime route and providing Afghan students with scholarships. In this way, India can successfully use Afghan soil for its desired aims and interests. The joint ventures of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) are involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan. The arrest of Kulbushan Yadhav in Pakistan proved this. Moreover, India wants access to the Central Asian Republics (CAR) to sustain its growing economy and Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia.The US is also pursuing its national interests under the banner of maintaining peace and harmony. Washington wants to check growing Chinese economic and diplomatic influence in the region in general and Afghanistan in particular. Furthermore, it can also check resurgent Russia by maintaining a presence in the region. For these reasons, the US will not want to leave Afghanistan any time soon. India wants access to the Central Asian Republics to sustain its growing economy and Afghanistan is the gateway to Central AsiaThere is no denying the fact that Pakistan is a key strategic partner of Afghanistan. Being neighbours, Pakistan has strategic depth in Afghanistan and other primary and secondary national interests. Therefore, it is imperative that Islamabad initiate efforts to end the lingering Afghan quagmire. Pakistan shares a porous border of 2600 km with Afghanistan which terrorists use to escape authorities on either side of the border. In this regard, Pakistan has taken a landmark decision to fence the border. Pakistan is spending 70 billion rupees to build forts, installing fencing and digging trenches to halt cross-border terrorism and human and drug trafficking.Along with this, to make this border more productive and safer, Pakistan is rightly tipped to enhance the forces of frontier crops on border areas to handle any unwanted situation and establishing efficient border crossing-control mechanism. Not only this, technical surveillance through unmanned sensors, drones and radars would further add impetus to strong security and defence line. These measures, when implemented in letter and spirit would prove fruitful and resolve the issues of Pak-Afghan border management issues. The US and the entire world is looking at Pakistan to play its positive role by bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table to resolve the long-standing Afghan conundrum. There is no opposing the view that Pakistan has historic, lingual, cultural and tribal affiliations with varying Afghan groups operating at various levels. Recently, Pakistan has used this historical link with the Taliban and made them agree to start peace talks with the US. In the ongoing reconciliation process, Pakistan has a very clear role in convincing the Taliban to end this bloody war.Along with this, Pakistan should use its contacts with Beijing to incorporate Afghan land into the mainstream development programs under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Moreover, Pakistan should also pursue Moscow to enhance its trade and economic links with Afghanistan, bringing Afghan factions at centre stage. This would surely minimise the bellicose nature and extremist tendencies of the Taliban. Meanwhile, the US should take all the demands put forward by the Taliban in the ongoing peace talks in due consideration. What stands out from the above discussion is that the Afghan quagmire is not possible to resolve until the two important stakeholders – Pakistan and the US — extend their sincere and productive hand to clinch Afghanistan from the abyss of extremism and militancy. Pakistan and the US must cooperate together and start a joint venture to end this war.The writer is a Quetta based columnist and a Independent researcher Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2019.