The US and Pakistan, as indeed the comity of nations, share a common vision, as well as they have an obligation, regarding stable Afghanistan in a post occupation setting. The stakes are indeed high for everyone. An instable Afghanistan would mean a mission failure for America. Another stigma of abdication would not go along well with the image of the sole superpower of the world, which President Barack Obama is striving to save from an impending eclipse. Notwithstanding the decision to go for another surge, military defeat appears imminent. Americans can save the day by quickly replacing the military might with soft power. As for Pakistan, a restive Afghanistan would mean a constant headache in the backyard. Certainly, politically uncomfortable segments of Afghanistan will keep pushing streams of refugees into Pakistan. The Afghan economy will continue to be controlled by drug barons, while the youth will be attracted by extremist elements and the cycle would go on. Indeed calm in Pakistan is contingent upon a tranquil Afghanistan. Needless to say that mounting hostility against US presence will not allow sustainable presence of American boots, or indeed of any other non-Muslim country on the Afghan soil, be they military or civilian. Here, Pakistan can provide an invaluable contribution through its white and blue collar workforce having common ethno-religious commonality with the Afghan population. Such an arrangement would have wider acceptance in Afghanistan. Though Pakistan lacks a viable economy to effectively participate in rebuilding Afghanistan, but it has the requisite human resource to contribute. If supported with compatible funding, this talented pool of personnel can rebuild Afghanistan as they did in the case of various Middle East states. Hence, there is a need for America and Pakistan to work conjointly for stabilising Afghanistan in the domains of capability building and institutional capacity enhancement. Pakistan has robust institutions and expertise to undertake this task. With America's financial underwriting, Pakistan can lay requisite foundation before the completion of occupation military's withdrawal. The starting point is to bring a fair degree of political stability by transforming President Hamid Karzai's presently discredited dispensation into a broad based government. Track II contacts with various factions of moderate Taliban need to be put on fast forward mode. Pakistan alongside Saudi Arabia can play a pivotal role in solemnising at least a marriage of convenience between the current government and moderate Taliban. Co-option of moderate Taliban, who are indeed in majority and represent the socio-political aspirations of a common Afghan, is inevitable for the post withdrawal stability, otherwise the country would sooner or later slip into a pre 9/11 kind of sludge. Last but not the least, participative political process encompassing all segments of the Afghan society holds the key to success. Given the quality of occupation troops, their lack of commitment and sapping moral, a typical foot soldier would be keener to survive till repatriation than to get killed for the imperial glory of America. His focus would be on count down and not on fighting an armed extremist or terrorist. This snowballing void needs to be filled expeditiously by putting on ground a professional Afghan army as well as civil armed forces. Here also, Pakistan could help America in training the Afghan National Army and civil armed forces by schooling Afghan contingents in its military and paramilitary training institutions. In this way, this task cannot be accomplished without Pakistani military personnel's physical presence in Afghanistan. Any effort to do it alone by America is likely to be counter productive because Afghans would not like to be trained on American role models; neither indeed on Indian ones. Pakistan can overcome this problem by detailing the trainers of the same ethnic groups. In the long run Pakistan could go to the extent of helping Afghanistan develop its own air force. In the same vein, to ensure an effective counterbalancing mechanism after the exit of the occupation forces, there is a need to reconstitute and re-mandate ISAF. It would be appropriate to have it composed of contingents from Islamic countries, but not from this region. With revised composition and mission (as UN peacekeepers), this force would be acceptable in the peacekeeping role to a common Afghan for a much longer period, who presently views it as a non-Muslim occupation force and as an appendage of American military might. This reconfigured contingent could act as a backup underwriter of stability till a robust native security mechanism matures. Pakistan can also play a momentous role in the civil sector development as well. It has a vibrant civil engineering industry that can develop railroad and other infrastructure in Afghanistan. Other areas of expertise are telecommunication, civil aviation, IT, management sciences, technical education and the like. Abject poverty is the fundamental cause that makes it easy for the extremist outfits to woo new recruits, especially the teenagers. Setting up of ROZs is another task that must be done on a war footing. It is only through creation of jobs that moderate Taliban can be taken out of the jaws of hardened extremists, in an enduring way. Long outstanding promises regarding economic development related mega projects need to be operationalised before the conclusion of withdrawal. Pakistan can provide human resource support in this domain as well. To make a long-term investment for preventing resurgence of extremism, America needs to rope in UNESCO for a major investment, to put on ground an appropriate education system that should cater for the sensitivities of local population, and yet provide purpose oriented education so that at the end of schooling, each student has a job related skill. It is only through systemic absorption of youth into the mainstream national economy that one could be sure that the menace of extremism shall not pass on to the next generation. There is a long way to go for ensuring post departure stability in Afghanistan. Soft power has a very broad canvass to work upon. It is time for the Americans to 'do much more' unless they wish to leave behind a Vietnam like legacy in Afghanistan. This all can be achieved at the cost of a fraction of one year's cost of the Afghan war. America is lucky to have Pakistan as a suitable partner for developing Afghanistan. This arrangement will be acceptable to the common Afghan as well. Undoubtedly, Pakistan will be able to carry on these development tasks even after the departure of Americans. What the Americans need to do is open up their coffers, and be rest assured that the investment is worth it. If a composite plan for rebuilding Afghanistan starts concurrently with the military surge, a bulk of outlined tasks can be completed prior to total withdrawal of the US/NATO forces, which President Obama will be under pressure to complete before kicking off his re-election campaign. The writer is a retired air officer of the PAF Email: