The Istanbul Declaration issued at the end of Wednesday's conference of Afghanistan neighbours and regional states, contains 23 points for all the participating countries to act upon. The declaration lays out a tall order, as the measures it envisages relate to almost the entire gamut of relationship between states covering political, security, economic, educational and cultural fields. However, if these, confidence building measures (CBMs), were to be put into effect in all sincerity, resolving inter-state contentious issues on the way, there is little doubt that they would achieve the purpose for which the conference was convened i.e. to achieve security and stability for Afghanistan and thus the region. The climate of mistrust and suspicion that currently prevails between some of these countries, would automatically give way to friendly and helpful exchanges. To evaluate progress on the Istanbul Declaration, a ministerial level meeting is to be held at Kabul in June next year. The CBMs envisage 'guarantees of territorial integrity, sovereignty and refraining from the threat or use of force to resolve disputes and cooperation in combating terrorism. The Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement was cited as a model for the rest to follow in order to promote trade across the region. There was a call for the participation of the private sector to boost regional development. To expand intra-regional commerce and tourism, the need for a relaxation of visa regimes and rules at border crossings of regional states was felt. While the conference supported the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project (TAPI) and the Central Asia-South Asia electricity scheme (CASA-1,000), designed to bring electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan and Afghanistan, sadly, there was no mention of the Iranian gas pipeline that would be the most beneficial for Pakistan both in terms of cost and easier access. President Karzai, in his address, struck a discordant note, as he talked of sanctuaries outside Afghanistans borders, maintaining that cooperation from neighbours, especially from Pakistan, was essential to ridding the country and the region of the menace of terrorism and restoring peace. The Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister rightly urged the world community to ensure that Afghanistan was free from foreign interference. The Afghans must decide their own future and there must be respect for Afghanistan sovereignty. No doubt, these are prerequisites for a lasting peace making for progress and prosperity of the region.