Pakistans relationship with Afghanistan is close to the core of Islamabads national security interests and Pakistan has to be a partner in finding solutions in its western conflict-hit neighbor, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband emphasized Wednesday while also urging Afghans to pursue a political settlement in their country. Delivering a lecture on how to end the war in Afghanistan, Miliband saw a vital opportunity in new expanding US-Pakistan partnership to address Islamabads concerns. There has been a significant change in Pakistan in the last 18 months under President Zardaris civilian government. The reality and threat of domestic terrorism has brought new purpose to civilian and military leadership, and new consensus between leaders and led, he noted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, near Boston. As a result of Pakistani actions and coalitions efforts on the Afghan side, he said it is now realistic to talk of complementary pressure on the Taliban insurgencies on both sides of the border. Miliband spoke as Pakistani leaders hosted talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and as top-level Pakistani political and military leaders prepared to hold a series of meetings in Washington on anti-militancy efforts, broader bilateral relationship and the way forward in Afghanistan. The British foreign secretary argued in favor of a regional cooperrative effort toward Afghanistans solution. He said there needs to be a more honest acknowledgement of the different interests and concerns of Afghanistan neighbours, so that efforts can be made to provide reassurances. Pakistan is essential here. It holds many of the keys to security and dialogue. It clearly has to be a partner in finding solutions in Afghanistan. Of course, Pakistan will only act according to its own sense of its national interest, he remarked. That is only natural. Pakistans relationship with Afghanistan is close to the core of its national security interests. Pakistan fears the build up of a non-Pashtun Afghan National Army on their doorstep. It is perpetually worried about Indias relationship with Afghanistan. Underscoring Pakistans importance to the regional peace and security, the British official noted Pakistan is a country of about 170 million people and growing fast. Its own security and economy has been directly damaged by decades of insecurity in Afghanistan. It is a nuclear power. It has had a difficult relationship with the US for a generation. That is the significance of the US Governments determination to pursue a new security, economic and political relationship. This is a vital opportunity to address Pakistans concerns and ours. The Kerry-Lugar Act is an important down payment in this regard. But progress cannot be achieved simply by a more serious, more equal US-Pakistan strategic security understanding, crucial though that is, Miliband added. The British foreign secretary called for early and substantive political negotiations between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban and other insurgent groups, saying that military successes will never be enough to end the war. The idea of political engagement with those who would directly or indirectly attack our troops is difficult, Miliband said. But dialogue is not appeasement, and political space is not the same as veto power or domination. Now is the time for the Afghans to pursue a political settlement with as much vigor and energy as we are pursuing the military and civilian effort, he said. According to The Washington Post, Milibands remarks went far beyond statements by U.S. officials, who have said talks would be better held after the military balance shifts toward the international coalition and the insurgents have agreed to sever ties with al-Qaeda and lay down their arms Miliband voiced support for a peace jirga, scheduled by President Karzai at the end of April. The jirga, he said, offers a chance to reconfigure political representation in the Afghan government, initially apportioned at a conference organized by the West in Bonn, Germany, after the United States and Afghan allies overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001. It was right that the Taliban leaders were excluded from Bonn, Miliband said. But other, more significant and legitimate groups were seriously underrepresented, most notably the various Pashtun confederations from which the Taliban draws its strength. Although Pashtuns make up about 40 percent of the population, and Karzai is a Pashtun, Afghanistans smaller ethnic groups play disproportionate roles in the government and the military.