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Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries' delegates at the Heart of Asia conference, Islamabad, Pakistan, Dec. 9, 2015 (Pool photo via AP by Aamir Quresh).

How India and Pakistan Détente Could Carry Over Into Afghanistan

Monday, Dec. 21, 2015

Over two days last week, senior diplomatic officials gathered in Islamabad to participate in the Heart of Asia conference, a forum of Afghanistan’s neighbors and major international supporters that has been held annually since 2011. Despite domestic criticism over his outreach to Pakistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attended the meeting, where participants, including Pakistan, China and the United States, voiced their support for the resumption of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Also in attendance was India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, marking the highest-level visit by an Indian diplomatic official to Pakistan since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May 2014. Swaraj’s presence at the summit was a reversal after lower-level talks were canceled this summer and last. She and her Pakistani counterpart announced a commitment to renew “comprehensive” dialogue, walking back from India and Pakistan’s insistence that talks could only move forward after discussions focused exclusively on terrorism or Kashmir, respectively. These diplomatic moves suggest that while Afghanistan’s worsening battle against the Taliban insurgency and the regional contest between India and Pakistan are each driven by their own unique dynamics, they are also closely interwoven, necessitating a multitrack effort if either is to be resolved. ...

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