The relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are never stable. However, the incumbent leaders of the two nations, i.e., Imran Khan and Ashraf Ghani while meeting on the sidelines of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Saudi Arabia agreed on giving a new try to strengthen the bilateral relations. Therefore, the President of Afghanistan Mr Ashraf Ghani will visit Pakistan on 27th June to meet Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan.

Ghani’s visit to Pakistan is important for two reasons. First, it will replace the years of mistrust with a new relationship of cooperation that is vital for bringing peace to the region. Second, the visit is also important because Zalmay Khalilzad, peace envoy of the United States (US) tasked with bringing the Taliban and the Afghan government to a dialogue table, will meet the leaders of the Taliban later this month. Probably the meeting between Ghani and Khan will be dominated by the question of how both states can chalk out a strategy through which the Taliban can be convinced of holding talks with the Afghan government as well.

That much said, the two leaders also need to discuss some hard issues as well that continuously proves to be the real reason behind the strained bilateral ties: terrorism – the most crucial problem that the two states are facing. PM Khan is the person who can come up with a long-lasting solution to end the menace of terrorism from both countries, as he has been an advocate of peace talks for quite some time. PM Khan also needs to ask opposition parties, especially the Pashtun nationalist parties, for their help and assistance in inflicting a defeat on terrorism in both countries.

Furthermore, the two leaders would not be different than the previous leadership of both countries if they do not move beyond accusing each other of breaching trust. It is about time for both countries to bridge the schisms that have been created by looking at each other with suspicion. Both leaders need to take their states out of such insecurities against each other. Only then can one expect a change in the ties of both sides for good.

Talking these matters should not make the two leaders ignore the importance of trade that can improve the bilateral terms of the two nations. Trade brings countries together. Engaging with each other through trade creates a win-win situation for all parties. If all these matters find space in the meeting between the two leaders, then no one can stop opening up of a new chapter of friendly relations between Islamabad and Kabul.