The telephone conversation between Karzai and Nawaz Sharif showed some positives, for it seems that that both parties are slowly realizing the need to work together especially after the pullout of NATO forces. However, this process of mutual assistance needs to speed up if anything concrete is to happen. The Americans are currently not entirely happy with President Karzai, and are counting on him to sign the bilateral agreement before the next President comes into power, who might have an entirely different idea regarding the future of the region. The release of a score of inmates from Bagram prison has also displeased Western nations, who are wavering about the threat of a complete pullout if Afghanistan does not comply soon. Left on its own, Afghanistan would have difficulty managing even finances, let alone keep various security threats at bay, and will have to come to terms with this fact before it is too late.

Although in theory, Pakistan has abandoned the idea of establishing strategic depth through interference in the matters of Afghanistan, the effects of what happens in the country will obviously have an impact on the entire region. In reality, even if Pakistan has stopped interference in the affairs of Afghanistan, our leaders will have one eye on their affairs in case anything goes awry. All those who are too engrossed in the workings of Afghanistan should be reminded that assistance and interference are two separate matters. As neighbours, our job is to help whenever required but not try and change things unilaterally for that could bring about the destabilization of the country. Our policy of using proxies has only added to the complications. Nawaz Sharif should be true to his words and advise our guys to stand down.

Things are pleasant with the Afghan government at the moment but under the surface issues are more convoluted. Plots and subplots are hatched by both sides to try and get the upper hand using contacts with the enemies of each state. Pakistan also has genuine questions of India’s involvement. However, wading out of this mess needs to happen now before we sink even further. Pakistan needs to move on and keep its own borders in check for its own safety. That is the only real safeguard against external threats, and will only help in rooting out the internal ones as well. 2014 will be a year of great change for South Asia and the old way of sticking ones nose in everything is no longer viable. Keep your hands clean without needing to wash them repeatedly.