The heads of state of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey once again expressed their resolve, at the 7thTrilateral Summit held at Ankara, to combat terrorism and other regional challenges through concerted efforts. The commitment is contained in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the talks on Wednesday. The joint press conference that followed the meeting also underlined the threat of terrorism, with Turkish President Abdullah Gul maintaining that militancy “is not the problem of any one country” and that there was need for all countries in the region to eliminate the scourge with joint struggle. For that hard task to accomplish, the leaders also stressed connectivity at all levels – among their people, institutions, infrastructures and economies. Thus, there were also calls for the promotion of trade and commercial relations and the foreign ministers of the three countries, who were also present there, signed an MoU to advance this cause.

Inevitably, the question of an assassination attempt at Afghan Intelligence Chief Asadullah Khalid, which President Asif Zardari felt was designed to undermine unity among the two countries, also came up. Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to form a joint working group of concerned agencies of the two countries to probe the matter. Mr Zardari observed that facing defeat the militants were now targeting individuals and his country was making serious efforts to tackle the terrorist mindset that was hurting bilateral relations. He underlined that it was in the interest of Pakistan to support the Afghan quest for peace. Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the journalists that the ‘promise of peace, stability and economic development of the region’ had to be fulfilled.

One would hope that the get-together has proved helpful in removing, in the real sense of the word, misunderstandings, which have been cropping up between Pakistan and Afghanistan and which are, without doubt, a big hindrance to bringing the peace and reconciliation process currently under way in Afghanistan to a successful conclusion. If Kabul complains of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, Islamabad has the grouse that the fugitive Maulvi Fazlullah, living in the security of the Kunar province, periodically sends across bands of thugs and suicide bombers to attack its security forces. There is paramount need to sort this confusion out if the idea of joint struggle against terrorism has to reach fruition.