In a BBC article, guest columnist Ahmed Rashid says talking to the Taliban could be the only way to end the war in Afghanistan.
The London conference on Afghanistan was being billed as a dud - hastily conceived, under prepared and potentially a political face-saver for two unpopular leaders, Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai.
Instead the conference has united the international community for a further commitment to Afghanistan's future - albeit for a shortened period.
Even more significant, there is broad agreement that talking to the Taliban is the only way to bring the insurgency to an end.
No longer are the US, Nato or Afghanistan's neighbours talking about militarily defeating the Taliban, rebuilding the country from top to bottom or promoting democracy.
Instead there is a single purpose in mind - how to provide sufficient security for development while at the same time allowing foreign forces to leave.