I will post the following in the Afghan thread too but some parts of it are relevant to the above development.
In early 2016, a Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States on Afghan Peace and reconciliation process was setup but the flux in the Taliban ranks after the announcement of Mullah Omar’s death and the opposition to the elevation of ISI-sponsored Mansour to Emirship led to non-participation in the first meeting in January 2016. The third round of the QCG was held in Islamabad on February 6, 2016 and it was announced that direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban would be held by the end of that month. The next meeting of the QCG was planned for the 23rd of February.
Hiwever, the Mansour-led Taliban group laid down pre-conditions for resumption of talks, such as stopping all attacks on them and withdrawal of all ISAF troops. A statement by its spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban “reject” peace talks and that reports of their participation were “rumours.” It also said “(Islamic emirate) once again reiterates that unless the occupation of Afghanistan is ended, blacklists eliminated and innocent prisoners freed, such futile misleading negotiations will not bear any results”. Earlier, the Pakistani Foreign Advisor Sartaj Aziz had claimed that Pakistan could deny the Taliban access to their families, medical facilities, etc, if the group was not willing to partake in the peace negotiations. He even posited that the leadership could be expelled from Pakistan if they failed to comply; this was the first time ever such a threat was publicly made by a senior official of Pakistan. Sartaj Aziz had thereby admitted that the Taliban leadership resided in Pakistan, a long-known open secret.
The Taliban had concluded that they were having an upper hand and could dictate terms. This assessment was proved correct when the Taliban kicked off their annual Spring Offensive (what the Taliban leadership council, Rahbari Shura called like a regular military operation, as ‘Operation Omari’ in honour of Mullah Omar)on April 19, 2016 with a bloody truck-bomb attack with hundreds of kilogrammes of explosives on an elite division of the Afghan National Army in central Kabul killing 37 and wounding 300 more. This came after the brief take-over of Kunduz about six months earlier in September, 2015 and many significant attacks around the country even during the winter.
The Afghan-Pakistan relationship, already under much strain, nosedived. So was the case with the US-Pakistan relationship. In his address to a joint session of the Afghan Parliament after the attack, Pres. Ghani termed the attacks as “undeclared war” which “ is not a civil war, but a war waged by terrorists and their regional supporters against our country”. Referring to the unfulfilled promise made by Pakistan to bring around the Taliban to the negotiating table, Pres. Ghani said, “Those who have failed to implement their commitments within this international framework or have been unwilling to implement them, are isolated more than ever today”. The Presidential Spokesman had been blunt earlier saying, “Pakistan is in a state of isolation. We want to use diplomatic initiatives to isolate Pakistan at the regional and international levels and to tell the world community where the terrorists are and which country and intelligence (agency) supports them.” Pakistan which was already deporting the Afghan refugees, began to detain a large number of Afghan Pashtuns and the rift between the two countries widened.
Simultaneously, the US State Department said, “We have consistently expressed our concerns at the highest level of the Government of Pakistan about their continued tolerance for Afghan Taliban groups such as the Haqqani Network operating from Pakistani soil. And we did again – after this week’s attack [April 19, 2016 Kabul Attack] we have pressed the Government of Pakistan to follow up on its expressed commitment not to discriminate between terror groups regardless of their agenda or their affiliation by undertaking concrete action against the Haqqanis.” Ultimately, the US Congress in late April 2016, put its foot down on the sale of eight F-16 aircraft to Pakistan under US aid by asking it to pay the entire cost of USD 770 million. In early August 2016, the US Secretary of Defence, Ash Carter, said that the Pentagon would not pay Pakistan USD 300 Million under Coalition Support Fund (CSF) because he could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network.
On May 21, 2016, the US State Department said that a drone had killed the Emir of Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a remote area in Balochistan in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Amidst all these, a fierce clash erupted between the ANA and the Pakistani Rangers at Torkham border crossing in mid-June 2016 as Pakistan began constructing a border checkpost there to which the Afghans objected claiming that they did not recognize the Durand Line and hence would not allow Pakistan to construct anything there. Both sides mobilized heavily as fierce shelling continued for a few days before eventually ceasefire could be effected. A Pakistani Major was killed while Afghanistan lost three soldiers.
The QCG was buried at this point.
On July 18 (– 22), a Taliban delegation, led by Abbas Stanakzai (a trusted lieutenant of the slain Taliban Emir Mansour Akhtar), had visited Beijing at China’s invitation and later a Taliban spokesman said “We wanted the Chinese leadership to help us raise these issues on world forums and help us get freedom from occupying forces.”. In early August 2016, China and Afghanistan held their first strategic military dialogue led by Gen. Fang Fenghui, member of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), and Gen. Qadam Shah Shahim, chief of general staff of the Afghan National Army. After that new military quadrilateral mechanism involving China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan was established, which was more targeted towards Central Asia. In the meanwhile, China announced that the Afghan QCG had gone defunct, after the killing of Taliban Emir Akhtar Mansour. China claimed that the involvement of Tajikistan was to plug the hole that existed for Islamist terrorists between Xinjiang & Tajikistan and Tajikistan & Afghanistan, trying to assuage Russia for its omission. Effectively, the USA was shunted out of the earlier QCG.
An alternative QCG was expected and seems to be developing in the form of China, Russia, Pakistan & Afghanistan. Whether it could achieve anything without the gorilla sitting in Afghanistan with almost 10000 soldiers is a moot point. With a new administration in the US coming in, we will have to wait for another six months for clarity from them. This period may be crucial for the Taliban as well as for the new QCG to consolidate.But, Afghanistan is slipping out of Pakistan's clasp is my estimation.