The unfinished business US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on his maiden visit to Pakistan has reiterated what has been said repeatedly that unless Pakistan takes care of the terroristsâ€™ sanctuaries operating in Pakistan, peace would not return to either Afghanistan or Pakistan. Pakistanâ€™s suffering because of terrorism has been horrific but in order to give one more chance to peace the government of Pakistan has started a dialogue with the Taliban. The result so far has been far from satisfactory though. It might be that we get peace momentarily and there would be attacks, few and far between, but the general fear would still loom and could explode into a larger conflagration at any given time. With the US withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of this year, both Pakistan and Afghanistan would have to forge strategies to deal with the menace that has remained uncured even after the longest war in modern history. Pakistan has been blamed for most of this situation by providing safe havens to the terrorists in its tribal areas adjoining the Afghan border that helped them attack Afghanistan undeterred. No US/NATO effort could succeed all these years because of this arrangement that had been allowed to continue under what had been called the policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan. In the quest to protect our interests in Afghanistan, we raised the Taliban who had been as inattentive to Pakistanâ€™s security needs as we had been attentive to protect them from hostile elements from within and without Afghanistan. Of late though, this policy has backfired and would become ever more dangerous if Pakistan fails to see the potential developments shaping up in the post-US withdrawal scenario. What if the Pakistani Taliban gets safe havens in Afghanistan and are allowed to operate against Pakistan from there? We might be able to push the Taliban out of our territory but we could not overcome the threat unless we decide to crush them completely. The right way is a combination of military operations and leaving the door open for militants who wish to come in out of the cold. However, for sustained peace, the support of the tribes in the areas the Taliban are based in is critical. We encouraged the formation of tribal peace lashkars (militias) but later abandoned them. They had been attacked by the Taliban while we did nothing to keep their morale up. Confused, they stopped supporting us since they could not make out the direction the government had been taking to fight the Taliban. If we could win back these tribes and provide them with the right kind of support, the Taliban would find it hard to sustain themselves in the region and we may be able to bring closure to this unfinished business at last. The unfinished business ***************************************************** Is this wishful thinking on both sides. Talking to the Taliban will not solve the issue or bring peace. Many times it has been tried and after a lull, terrorism has returned in full force. In fact, it helps the Taliban to rest, recoup, refit and be ravishingly dangerous for man or beast. It is ridiculous an idea that one should undertake military operations against the Taliban and at the same time also keeping talking to them. Is there any answer to this dilemma? When the US withdraws the Taliban's aim will be to ensure that the whole subcontinent gets destabilised. The Pakistanis are myopic and leave everything to Fate.