Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan has so far gone well.  A statement was released by the Prime Minister’s Office highlighting the positive developments that have arisen out of the delegation level talks between both sides. The PMO statement said the two leaders had agreed to open “a new chapter of friendship and cooperation” based on “mutual trust and harmony” for the benefit of their countries and advancing the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Those highly critical of the government may look at the ensuing developments and contend that no real breakthrough was achieved. No specific terms of agreement or details were discussed in the meetings between Ghani’s delegation and Pakistani ministers. Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of major energy connectivity projects such as the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA 1000) electricity transmission line and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, which have been delayed constantly because of political and security tensions between the two countries. While agreements were had that these barriers towards development should be removed, and that Pakistan and Afghanistan need to set aside hostilities, critics could argue that these were mostly just words and platitudes and no concrete agreement was reached.

This, however, would not be a fair assessment of the diplomatic initiatives that have been reached by this visit. It would be undermining how tense relations had been between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the months before. Indeed, Pakistan’s involvement in the peace process talks between Afghan power players and the United States might have been a major factor for the Afghan government’s efforts to delay the peace process. Even if the actual agreements coming out of this were only a few, the refreshed ties and cordial atmosphere that has been borne out of this visit are essential for the peace process. It is a step closer towards instilling trust between the two countries, which is imperative if stability is to be achieved in the region.

The thawed relations between Ghani’s administration and Pakistan had been the cause of uncertainty in the region and in the effort to end the 18 years’ war in Afghanistan. It was also triggering security and financial setbacks in the Afghan-Pak region. The next round of peace talks between the United States and Taliban begins in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday; this successful visit signals hope that this new round of peace talks will have the Afghan government seeing Pakistan as a neutral keeper of peace rather than an adversary.