With the formation of the National Unity Government headed by President Ashraf Ghani in September 2014, relations with Pakistan saw an unprecedented improvement, raising hopes of peace talks with the Afghan Taliban. Months later, in mid June 2015, Ghani’s strongly worded letter to the Pakistani authorities was an apparent sign that his patience had worn thin. In his letter, the Afghan president demanded that Pakistan bring Taliban to the negotiating table or crack down on Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. Ghani gave Pakistan a three-week ultimatum to prove its commitment to a unified stance with the Afghan government against the Taliban. As yet, though, there appears no evidence of any meaningful action from Pakistan.
Ghani initially showed extraordinary confidence that Pakistan’s “undeclared war” with Afghanistan had locked the Taliban into a fight against Afghanistan, and that if the two governments could work towards convergent interests, the conflict would inevitably be addressed. While this line of thinking triggered criticism from Afghan political elites, who called it naive, it earned Ghani plaudits from Pakistan and promises to help his peace efforts.
On June 22, Sartaj Aziz, an advisor to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, announced that a major advance in the Afghan peace process is likely within months. Aziz claimed to have facilitated a meeting of three known Taliban members – Mullah Abdul Jalil, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rahmani, and Mullah Abdul Razaq – in Urumqi, China, with the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) in May 2015, and stated that a similar meeting between the two sides would take place in the near future.