ISLAMABAD - China and Russia are ready to go the extra mile to make Pakistan-Afghanistan track-II dialogue successful as the two neighbours make efforts to reconcile, diplomatic sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Beijing and Moscow believe the track-II dialogue can improve the confidence level between the two countries.

The officials said that China – as a long-time friend – and Russia, as the emerging partner, had shown willingness to ‘intervene where necessary’ to bring Pakistan and Afghanistan closer for the sake of regional peace.

One official said: “China and Russia have contacted us (Pakistan) on the Afghanistan issue and appreciated the peace efforts. They have offered to help where necessary. They are willing to go the extra mile on the issue. They have pledged support for regional peace. The track-II dialogue also has the blessing of the United States. With the combined efforts, we are sure to make it a success,” he said.

Last week, a high-powered Afghan security delegation visited Pakistan for official talks on how to jointly push peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.

Haneef Atmar, the Afghan national security adviser, led the team, which included the interior minister and the head of the Afghan spy agency, the National Directorate of Security.

Reports said Atmar’s delegation stayed in Islamabad for a few hours and mainly met with the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence. The discussions were in the context of the Afghan government’s conflict with the Taliban and the successful mutual ceasefire over Eidul Fitr. The Taliban had refused to extend its three-day ceasefire that ended on June 17 and have since returned to the battlefield.

This week, the Pak-Afghan track-II initiative resulted in a commitment by Pakistan and Afghanistan to end the ‘blame game’. The third episode of ‘Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Committee, Beyond Boundaries’ was held in Kabul.

Earlier in April, the two countries had agreed in Islamabad on effective and full implementation of Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), saying it will contribute to the common objectives of eliminating terrorism and achieving peace, stability, prosperity and development of the people of the two countries. The Afghan delegation led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai had met with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua that month.

The APAPPS provides a framework to strengthen mutual trust and deepen interaction in all spheres of bilateral engagements. It is also a mechanism for finding solutions to bilateral areas of concern.

Another round of Afghanistan-Pakistan Track-II Bilateral Dialogue will be held today (June 27-28) in Islamabad. National Security Adviser Nasir Janjua and Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omer Zakhilwal will be part of the discussions.

This month, Pakistan, Russia and China had formed an unofficial bloc on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Qingdao, vowing to work together in the coming years.

President Mamnoon Hussain, who represented Pakistan at the SCO Council of Heads of State meeting, had met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of Qingdao summit and exchanged views on regional peace.

In the recent months, both Moscow and Beijing have expressed optimism that Pakistan and India’s entry into the SCO could strengthen prospects for peace across the region.

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said that Pakistan wanted peace with Afghanistan. “We have always supported the dialogue process with Afghanistan,” he said.

Faisal said China had been a friend over the decades and Beijing’s support for Pakistan’s positive steps had been unconditional. “With Russia, our partnership is emerging. We are building ties. Naturally China and Russia want peace in the region,” he remarked.

Last week, US President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead allied forces in Afghanistan, Lt-Gen Austin Miller said the ‘biggest challenge’ to stabilise Afghanistan remained the ‘sanctuaries in Pakistan’.  “We should have high expectations that they are part of the solution, not just diplomatically but from a security standpoint as well,” he said.

Miller, in his written answers, acknowledged that Pakistan had made “many sacrifices” and “its security forces have fought bravely,” but “we have not yet seen these counterterrorism efforts against anti-Pakistan militants translate into definitive actions against Afghan Taliban or Haqqani leaders residing in Pakistan.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistan-issued proof of registration (PoR) cards for Afghan refugees in Pakistan will expire on June 30. This will be the third such expiry in 2018.

Since their inception, the extension of the PoR cards has been ad-hoc. In January, the government extended the cards by 30 days. This was subsequently extended for further two months and then again for three months.

The world, including the US recognizes Pakistan’s efforts to host millions of Afghan refugees for decades. For years, Pakistan has been seeking Afghanistan’s help to repatriate the refugees.