A nascent peace process taking shape since February has so far led to diplomatic contacts and a brief ceasefire. Fighting on the ground is not in itself an indicator of Taliban recalcitrance, but the group is divided on whether and how to proceed towards a negotiated settlement.
- A significant Taliban constituency sees no purpose in pursuing jihad but is uncertain how to formulate demands for a political settlement.
- Hard-line Taliban deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani is looking isolated.
- Taliban attacks or restraint during the October parliamentary elections will help identify their intentions.
- The strained US-Pakistani relationship will complicate efforts to influence Islamabad's Afghan policies.