After Taliban's downfall in Afghanistan in 2001, they quickly regrouped and took advantage of mistakes and inaction of American and NATO forces for eradicating the root causes leading to the emergence of the Taliban. As a consequence, there are now worrying signs of Taliban's resurrection in Pakistan. The two Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are busily spreading their influence while aiming to take control of the governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The 2001 easily won war against the Taliban in Afghanistan created a sense of victory so robust that the Bush administration immediately shifted its attention to a second war in Iraq. In that perception, the Taliban were so decimated that they could no longer pose a threat. In the NATO countries also the assumption was that the environment in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban would be benign.

Although at that time, the Western support for Afghanistan were resolute in pronouncements, but there was less real commitment for solving Afghanistan’s myriad problems. Lack of appropriate actions needed for taking care of a war ridden Afghanistan became part of a pattern that in the American military jargon is called “the good war” going off the course. As American focus faltered, the Taliban found refuge in Pakistan and regrouped their fighters slipped back over the border, driving up attacks and bombings forcing the NATO and American troops into battles to retake the areas they had lost in southern Afghanistan. Taliban's tactics worked well amid differences that developed between the U.S. and some of its allies over American campaign in Iraq and disarray in the NATO about force deployments and overall the strategy of military engagement in Afghanistan; as NATO experienced its first out-of-the region expedition.

As early as February 2003, NATO's Secretary General Lord Robertson expressed his discontent about the performance of the NATO, warning that if peace was not built in Afghanistan, NATO members would all suffer the spillover consequences, in instability, terrorism, drugs and refugees. He sounded the alarm that "continuing reliance on ad hoc solutions to deep and enduring problems there gives neither the Afghans and their neighbors, nor the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaida the sense that we are there for the long haul." Not only his advice was not heeded, but more importantly was Bush's policy toward Iran, through his infamous "axis of evil" rhetoric that alienated Iran and deprived the West from a much needed assistance that they enjoyed in the course of removing the Taliban from the power. The Bush administration instead opted to rely on some murky military intelligence elements in Pakistan who had a hand in the creation of the Taliban in the first place.

Negligence on the part of the U.S. and its NATO allies in Afghanistan in dealing with the disastrous situation in that country led to the growing power of the Taliban. The resurgence of the Taliban was not conceivable without having a fertile ground for activity in the abandoned and undeveloped areas that lacked sufficient financial support. Reports from Afghanistan indicate that the international community is falling woefully short in financing its own estimates of Afghanistan’s needs and that financing gap is about $22 billion, or 48 percent of the estimated needs. That is while in addition to the proportion of money that the Taliban receives from narcotics trade it is hugely funded by some Arab quarters in the Persian Gulf region through a network that is not uneasy to be detected by Western intelligence services.

Under those conditions, the Pakistani mutation of Taliban, that is distinct from the Afghan group, rose up in 2002 in response to the Pakistani army's incursions into that country's tribal areas to hunt down militants. In September 2006 Pakistan's President Parviz Musharaf signed a controversial peace agreement with seven militant groups, who called themselves the "Pakistan Taliban." Pakistan's army agreed to withdraw from the area and allow the Taliban to govern, as long as they promise no incursions into Afghanistan or against Pakistani troops. The agreement was the first major political victory for "Pakistan Taliban" since the agreement was not possible without a prior coordination with the U.S. who was engaged in the fight against Al Qaeda, and its ally the Taliban, in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That deal was indicative that a new approach toward the Taliban was evolving. For sometime certain strategists, in Pakistan as well as in the U.S., have argued that the Taliban could be broadly divided into two categories, the socially ultra-conservative Islamists, who demand the rule of Sharia in areas where they dominate or the "good Taliban", and the global Jihadis and the terrorist ring leaders or the "bad Taliban". By adopting this policy, Western powers were hoping to sow divisions between Taliban and reach a compromise with the "good Taliban", as part of a preparation plan for their exit strategy from Afghanistan.

But the Swat Valley Deal in April 2009 between the government of Pakistan and the Taliban showed that hope for lasting peace was nothing but an illusion. The Taliban openly says that the Swat Valley region is just the first to fall to them. The Taliban predicts a takeover of the entire nation of Pakistan - a nation with nuclear weapons. The situation turned so grave that the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a rare statement in briefing of the US lawmakers, while referring to the developments in the Swat valley, said that "the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists." She conceded that the Obama administration is looking at Pakistan to use the same methods as the Bush administration did in Iraq; reconciliation with those who are part of an armed campaign for political, cultural and historical reasons from those who are hard core extremists and terrorists.

The appeasement of the Taliban in the name of "good Taliban" has raised concerns in the region about the ultimate goals of that policy. India has expressed it uneasiness with the proposals to bring certain Taliban members into a future power-sharing agreement in Afghanistan. Some in India consider that the terrorist attack on Mumbai cannot be seen in isolation from the militancy radiating from the Taliban. Russia has been silent on the project of engagement with the "good Taliban", but since it supported the Northern Alliance, along with Iran and India, in their campaign against the Taliban government in Afghanistan it is logical to assume that it would not favor any deal that would bring the Taliban back into power. Iran that has never been fond of the Taliban has called the policy simplistic. Iranians vividly remember that in the early and mid-1990s, one of the attractions underlying the U.S.-Saudi sponsorship of the Taliban was the movement's manifestly anti-Shia stance and its infinite potential to counter the expanding Iranian influence within Afghanistan. The recent activities of a terrorist group in Baluchistan under the name of Jondallah, a group that harbor radical Sunni Islamist leanings akin to Al Qaeda or the Taliban and highly suspected of having the support of the CIA and other intelligence services are other factors that makes Iran suspicious about any policy that would imply the return of the Taliban to power.

At another level, in the internal political scene in Afghanistan, the appeasement of the Taliban is bound to enrage other ethnic groups such as the Tajiks, the Uzbeks and the Hazaras who have fought vehemently along with American forces in 2001 to remove the Taliban from power. The real fear is that another failure to stabilize Afghanistan would now pose a truly existential threat to Pakistan and that is that the Taliban and Al Qaeda will be able to take over nuclear Pakistan.

With such a bleak scenario, there is clearly a need for immediate attention for finding a solution for Afghanistan and specifically for the problem of the Taliban that is now spreading into the neighboring Pakistan. The Taliban has been active in this area and now stronger connections exist between the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban. Thus, a concerted international effort for curbing the spread of what is now considered as Talibanism deems necessary. For this purpose, there are steps to be taken in containing Taliban's power base. First, it is their financial resources which are generously supplied by their friends in the Persian Gulf region. The money is supplemented by a huge income from illegal narcotic trade with ever expanding cultivation of opium poppy under the nose of the ISAF and NATO forces.

The second important step relates to the welfare of the people, who have become easy prey for the Taliban dominance. A serious and concentrated plan for development of those areas which suffer high percentage of poverty is a priority. Previous and current development assistance to these areas has been mostly unsuccessful due to many deficiencies including mismanagement, lack of coordination among donor countries, and the prevalent corruption at the local level which is another significant issue that needs to be tackled in its own place. The world may witness another catastrophe, unless all of these issues are dealt in a coordinated fashion.