Shah Mahmood Qureshi met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov yesterday on his trip to Moscow. Russia was the final destination of Shah’s four-nation tour. The purpose of the three-day trip was to take all regional stakeholders on board on the Afghan peace process. It was the first Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) held in 2013 that eminent public intellectual Tariq Ali for the first time proposed a regional solution for bringing peace to Afghanistan. Interestingly, the countries that he mentioned then, i.e., Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia are the international actors that are most interested in a stable Afghanistan than any other nation today. All the four countries understand the fact that a stable Afghanistan is a prerequisite for regional peace.

The meetings of Pakistani officials with regional powers are not only helpful in seeking out a possible peace deal between Afghan government and Taliban, but these exchanges are also proving extremely helpful in enhancing Pakistan’s ties with these countries, especially Russia and Iran. Even as Shah Mahmoud was meeting officials of these countries, militants while attacking a government compound in Kabul claimed lives of at least 43 people on Tuesday.

The recent trip of Shah also suggests a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan can be seen as the most active regional player that wants a peace deal in Afghanistan. For this purpose, Islamabad is willing to assist even the United States that last year accused it of not acting against safe havens of terrorists. The trip of Pakistan’s foreign minister to Iran, China and Russia can also be seen as a move of reassurance to regional partners of not accepting the American solution for Afghan peace. Pakistan understands it too well that other than a regional solution there is no way out to end the vicious cycle of violence in Kabul that is claiming the lives of people on a routine basis.