The Afghan Taliban may be unpleasant interlocutors, considering their violent past and unimpressive attitude towards inclusivity and democratic governance.
Yet, one thing that many in the international community – particularly Afghanistan’s neighbours – realise is that there are few options but to engage with the group as it is, after all, the de facto government in Kabul.
Pakistan and China very much adhere to this thinking, as was evidenced by the recently concluded Fifth Trilateral Foreign Ministers Dialogue in Islamabad, in which the top diplomats of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan participated.
As expected, counterterrorism and economics topped the agenda, with Pakistan and China gently reminding the Afghan side that more work had to be done to ensure Afghanistan did not become a haven for terrorist groups. Moreover, the proposal to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan would also be significant for regional geo-economics, should it come to fruition.
The dialogue also brought to the fore China’s growing desire to be seen as a regional and global peacemaker, as Beijing seeks to deploy its brand of diplomacy in trouble spots across the world.
All three foreign ministers pledged to enhance counterterrorism cooperation. For Pakistan, the presence of militant groups such as the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan in Afghanistan is a major concern, one that has been…