LAHORE - Islamabad and Kabul’s resolve to keep on strengthening mutual ties leaving behind the bitter memories of the past is a good news not only for the two countries but also for other countries of the region.

As the date for US troops pullout approaching nearer, change in thought of new Afghan leadership can be seen felt. The new Afghan President, unlike his predecessor Hamid Karzai, does not want to be a puppet leader and just a finger’s pie of the US. He is striving to make other countries of the region realize that maintaining peace in Afghanistan is the first and foremost priority of the new Afghan government. In this regard, Afghan government’s efforts to revive relations with Pakistan and China are quite evident.

China’s suggestion to establish a forum for talks with Taliban and her advice for other regional countries not to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs is a key statement. Afghanistan will have to keep in mind the American and Nato forces’ experience that Afghan Taliban cannot be defeated. Afghan Taliban are enjoying quite a different position compared with TTP groups in Pakistan.

They have been in power and believe in playing their role in politics. So they can be convinced through talks to play their role in Afghan politics. To facilitate this process, Pakistan will have to extend its helping hand to Afghanistan. Pakistan will also have to make sure that if Afghan Taliban have any sympathy or support for Fazlullah-affiliated or any other TTP-related group at any level, it must be ended so that Fazlullah and his affilates’ operations in Pakistan can be minimised.

On the other hand, Afghan President will also have to stop ‘proxy war’ from its soil and extend every possible help against Fazlullah making sure that Afghan territory will not serve the terrorists objectives and its borders become safe. That will also neutralize unnecessary Indian influence on Afghanistan.

Ashraf Ghani’s Pakistan visit, contrary to Karzai’s visit, is definitely an endeavour to establish a true and lasting peace in the region. Both countries will have to take this process forward with sincerity and devotion. Any laxity or lack of seriousness in this connection can damage the chances of a breakthrough and establishing lasting peace in the region. They will also keep it in mind that many foreign elements would try to sabotage the efforts for establishing peace, strengthening relations and completing the Economics Corridor project.