Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir has said in Kabul that Pakistan will support a peace process in Afghanistan. Such a peace process will only follow after US and NATO forces withdraw from the country, which will render Afghanistan truly independent, and make such forums as the bilateral meeting which Mr Bashir attended truly meaningful. Among the main worries of all the stakeholders in that war-torn country two stand out. One is the shape of things to come. The other, linked to that, is the fate of President Hamid Karzai. The future of Afghanistan should see a return to dominance being exerted by Pashtuns, by virtue of their being a majority. Apart from being kept in place by foreign occupiers, another problem with the present regime is that even though fronted by a Pashtun, it is dominated by the primarily Tajik Northern Alliance. Because of this, the government has been allowed by its American backers to get away with wild inaccurate ethnographic information, turning the Pashtun majority into a minority. It is this Pashtun majority, which has created Pakistani interest in the country, as Pashtuns are one of its ethnicities. This is what has created the deep ties that exist between the two peoples, and why, despite all the venom spouted by the Afghan government in Kabul over the decades, the Afghan people have looked favourably enough on Pakistan. Pakistan should look favourably on Afghanistan being independent, even if under President Karzai, rather than under American tutelage. The USA is only interested in Afghanistan because of the opening it provides into Central Asia and the hydrocarbon wealth it has. It would be better if Afghanistan allowed the axis of Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, to play a due role in the development of the country. That axis, which formed the backbone of CENTO in the Cold War, has legitimate interests in Central Asia, which it would want to defend against all comers, including India, which is being unnecessarily involved in Afghanistan by the USA and the Karzai regime. It must be noted that India is only being involved because it has imposed itself on the USAs war on terror, and because it harbours great-power ambitions it is ill-equipped to handle. This is a time when Pakistan must tread very delicately. It must follow a policy in which it enables the departure of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, while at the same time it prevents President Karzai from falling. This will be difficult while it ensures that India and Indian influence leave Kabul. But it is not impossible.