IN OTHER WORDS: Peace pact

One breakthrough of the four-day peace jirga of some 600 Afghan and Pakistani tribal leaders that concluded on Sunday in Kabul was that it drew a rare public acknowledgment from President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan that Taliban militants have been using tribal areas inside Pakistan as safe havens from which to launch attacks into Afghanistan. Musharraf highlighted a key compromise when he spoke of isolating the die-hard militants among the Taliban and trying to “win the hearts and minds” of the Pashtun ethnic group from whom the Taliban draw their recruits. This was part of a strategy to co-opt those Taliban elements who can be won over.

For such a strategy to work, Musharraf will have to do his part. This does not mean halting all cross-border infiltration — an impossible task — but dismantling the Taliban’s command structure. This is something Pakistan’s military intelligence is capable of doing. Toward that end, Pakistan must be assured that a post-Taliban Afghanistan will not become a repository of Indian influence, will not deprive the Pashtun of their fair share of power, and will recognise the current border between the two countries. And it would help if US and its allies financed reconstruction projects through Karzai government and ceased air attacks that kill civilians.