LAHORE 'Twins are as we were, the suffering is the same and the joy will be the same.This was stated by the Afghan President Hamid Karzai with respect to Pakistan on June 10 during his visit to Islamabad. Two months earlier in April, Pakistans Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani visited Kabul alongwith a high profile delegation that comprised Heads of the security establishment and Ministers of Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs. Both countries had then agreed to formation of a joint peace commission that would oversee the progress towards reconciliation with Taliban. In between the reciprocal visits Osama Bin Laden was killed on May 2 in Pakistan through US unilateral action within Pak territorial boundaries. On the occasion, Afghan President made a personal assertion that his killing in Pakistan showed that the war against terrorism should focus on Islamabad and not Kabul. That uncalled for statement hurt the Pakistani resolve with which the Pakistani Prime Minister and his delegation had visited Kabul a month earlier. Nevertheless, since Pakistan has always wanted a stable Afghanistan on its West, it never shied away from efforts that could help Afghanistan resurrect its security, integrity, and sovereignty. Karzais visit took place at a crucial stage of global efforts to resurrect Afghanistans integrity as a nation before US and NATO wind up their Afghan mission by 2014. US would start withdrawing its troops next month from Afghanistan, the size and magnitude of which is being considered in Washington. Urgency for reintegrating and reconciling with all warring factions has never been so great. The outgoing US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates also indicated that there will be no aversion in talks with even the Haqqani group if it helps bring peace in Afghanistan. Hence, the Afghan Presidents visit to Pakistan was to seek Islamabads role in encouraging Afghan Taliban and other armed groups to come to the negotiating table. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have increased their interaction as the decade old Afghan war winds down as the end result of the war will potentially have long term implications on both the countries in this way or the other. Meanwhile, UKs special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, the UKs Ambassador in Kabul and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have recently visited Pakistan and defended Pakistans legitimate interests in Afghanistan and assured their respective support. Pakistan has also received assurances from other major Western powers that its genuine concerns would be addressed in any future set up in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always pledged its support for any reconciliation in Afghanistan, however, with the US and UK covertly pursuing secret talks with the Taliban, keeping Pakistan out of the loop is making it difficult for Pakistan to achieve concrete results. Albeit, this is the time for us to focus on Afghan peace efforts as the lasting peace therein is vital for the future of Pakistan also. In the absence of top leadership that has been either eliminated or incapacitated, funding made difficult and with the faltering morale, now is the time when Taliban can be squeezed into reconciliation through peace talks. Karzais visit to Pakistan was closely watched for results by the West. As soon as the visit was over US Ambassador to Pakistan held a lengthy meeting with Pakistans Foreign Secretary for the feedback on Afghan Presidents visit. An important trilateral Core Groups meeting involving Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States is scheduled for 28th of this month in Kabul to discuss peace in the region. The two-day visit by Afghan President was followed with a 23-point 'Islamabad Declaration by the two sides setting forth an ambitious agenda for further improving bilateral relationship. High point of the declaration was the inauguration of a high level Joint Peace Commission for Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan and agreeing to a 2nd tier of Joint Commissions to over look the progress on the agenda points. The other important hallmark was the operationalisation of APTTA with Pakistan, suggesting inclusion of Central Asian States. More bilateral visits would take place soon ,however, diplomatic niceties must be used to remove the element of mistrust. The essence of the interaction between the two countries and the major player US is to end the Afghan war on a note that does not shake defined interests of either of the countries. The US needs to withdraw from Afghanistan in an early time frame. If the war continues in Afghanistan, Pakistan will continue to suffer immensely as the war costs are taking heavy toll especially on its long-term economy and security. More deployments, more fighting will further stretch Pakistan Army and its ability on which the US depends so heavily may be affected, a possibility that US may not like to see it happen.