Over the last year, relations between Pakistan and the United States have been driven to ever-lower depths. The leaderships of both countries are struggling to rebuild the semblance of a working relationship, especially regarding Afghanistan. Pakistan has long been convinced that the United States and its allies were bound to fail in Afghanistan and that the American war on terrorism is responsible for the threats Pakistan faces from its own extremists. Meanwhile, the United States regularly complains that Pakistan plays a double game, providing logistical and intelligence assistance while also protecting and sometimes facilitating the Taliban insurgency.

While the strategic interests of Washington and Islamabad have so often clashed over Afghanistan, their interests have lately converged on an endgame for that embattled country. Their common strategic approach aims to negotiate a grand bargain with senior Taliban leaders. But it faces heavy odds and as presently conceived threatens to exclude other important stakeholders in Afghanistan—including the Karzai regime itself.

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