Over the past few years Afghanistan has proven to be the bane of Pakistan–US relations; as the deteriorating security situation in the country was mirrored by a breakdown in bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States. A bellicose new administration in the United States, and Pakistan’s increasing tilt towards China didn’t help matters. However it seems that the recent “thaw” in relations – as described by diplomatic sources on both sides – also has the same common denominator; the security situation in Afghanistan.

The recent announcement by the Taliban seeking negotiation – and Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani’s welcoming response to that announcement – have prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity between the three countries. The United States’ guarded but encouraging response has opened an avenue where for once Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US are on the same page.

In perusal of that objective Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had an unscheduled meeting with US Vice President Michael Pence in Washington on Friday and their talks focused on finding a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan. The statement’s coming out as a result of the meeting paints a positive picture. On the same day the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, met with tribal leaders in the FATA region to discuss avenues of cooperation and mainstreaming of the region. Meanwhile Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar has invited his Pakistani counterpart Lt-Gen (Retd) Nasir Khan Janjua for talks on bilateral matters, mainly focusing on security cooperation.

Of course the mere fact that such meetings are being convened does not guarantee a diplomatic breakthrough, yet the efforts made by all parties – especially the Pakistani government – must be commended. It now needs to follow through on such initiatives and take them to their logical conclusion. This might be the only opportunity the nation has of definitively addressing the Afghan problem.