While the Kashmir issue with India continues to be at stalemate, maybe it is time for our diplomatic energies to be focused on the other stalemate – the matter of Afghanistan and its misplaced love for India.

PM Nawaz Sharif and Afghan PM Ashraf Ghani met at the first Global Sustainable Transport Conference the United Nations convened in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat. Reports suggest that this meeting was a step in the right direction, though there is much still to consider where Afghanistan and its recent hostility to Pakistan is concerned.

The charge sheet that Ghani has been bandying about Pakistan has one major complaint; that Pakistani intelligence agencies are covertly supporting the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan by allowing them to use sanctuaries in Pakistan. Pakistan’s recent push to send millions of documented and undocumented Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan has also fuelled tensions. What is forgotten is that since 2001, it has been Afghanistan that has been a safe haven for militants to hide and terrorism in Pakistan today, is a problem inherited from Afghanistan rather than the other way around. While Pakistan has been struggling will clean-up operations in the past decade including Zarb-e-Azb, the porous border has not helped. Cracking down on refugees, making sure they are registered or repatriated to Afghanistan is one of the only policies left in the hands of the government. If Afghanistan is so insecure about terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan, it is in their interest, to make sure that their citizens come back to the fold of Afghan “safety” and movements across the border are monitored, or at least constrained.

But the discussing the facts is useless, because calling Pakistan a terror-supporting state shifts blame from Afghanistan, and provides a point of solidarity with India that is using the same rhetoric in the case of Kashmir. Thus Pakistan needs to pursue a new strategy vis-à-vis Afghanistan – the CPEC carrot.

In Ashgabat, while PM Sharif stressed on the need for trade, transit and connectivity, we can only hope that it rang an alarm in PM Ghani’s head, that economic connections will not become real while accusing Pakistan of terrorism, especially, after talk of harmonising the TAPI with CPEC. Afghanistan is reliant on NATO forces of security, and India for economic survival. The landlocked economy cannot afford any enemies. The good thing is that Pakistan is a state that values ideals of Muslim fraternity and liberal humanitarian assistance in its foreign policy. It is not too late for an Afghan corridor, and not too late for Afghanistan to take a step back from the dangerous and isolating relationship with India, to open up to Pakistan, a country that has sheltered its people for decades to the extent that refugees call it home, something India will never be for the Afghans.