Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah’s three-day visit comes at a significant point for the region. The talks between the Afghan Taliban and the government are in progress, and undoubtedly, all regional and international players must be brought into the loop with how things are going. Pakistan’s inextricable ties with Afghanistan indicate that we will have an important role to play in the aftermath of the negotiations. This is why this visit features meetings with the highest tier of the democratic leadership; from the Prime Minister himself, to the President and the Senate Chairman as well.

Naturally, Pakistan—this goes for the rest of the international community too—has very limited input at this stage. Our narrative of an Afghan-led and Afghan owned peace process has finally been realised and this latest round of discussions, and everyone outside Afghanistan can only hope that a deal is struck sooner rather than later. Chairman HCNR Abdullah can work with Pakistani leaders over the course of the next few days to understand our perspective, and perhaps also take a recommendation or two—where possible—to fast-track the negotiations.

But more importantly, at this stage, representatives of the Afghan peace committee need to look ahead and work out what comes after a deal has been struck. For any peace in the near future, economic stability must be a priority for the Afghan government moving forward. And the best way to guarantee that is through regional cooperation. This is where Pakistan can assist the western neighbour and has done so in the past as well; we just recently opened up transit trade even though India at the receiving end is leaving no stone unturned to foment instability in the region. Pakistan has stood on the side of peace before negotiations began, and has offered unconditional support to the Afghan government. While it is still too early to work out the details of what economic cooperation will look like after a ceasefire has been agreed to. But undoubtedly, even at this early juncture, Chairman Abdullah can use this visit to make initial inroads related to economic partnerships in the coming year.