The trilateral meeting between PM Nawaz Sharif, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and UK PM David Cameron must have been an awkward affair, to say the least, considering the rifts that have appeared between Pakistan and the Karzai government. The recent revelation of Afghan attempts to recruit TTP as its proxy in a retaliatory action against Pakistani military’s alleged support for the Afghan Taliban certainly did not help diffuse the tension between the two neighbours. The meeting, held at British PM’s residence, lasted for three hours. The primary concern was the post-US withdrawal scenario in Afghanistan.

Everyone is well aware that the last time an invading army withdrew its forces from Afghanistan, it left behind a massive power vacuum. Warlords fought for power wherever they could, and after a fully-fledged civil war, the Taliban eventually took control of the centre and formed a ‘government’. Therefore, the concerns shared by all three parties are not unfounded. It was agreed that sincere efforts should be put behind a reconciliatory process, aimed at making the Afghan political system inclusive of all stakeholders in the war-torn country. The writ of the Karzai government spans over a limited territory, and the rest of Afghanistan is either under the control of the Taliban, or absolutely free of any administration. Once US forces leave, there is a serious threat of more chaos which is likely to engulf the country as various entities-Afghan Taliban being the major player-launch a power-struggle against Kabul. Considering that situation and the disastrous repercussions which will most definitely result from it, Pakistan’s role becomes exceedingly critical for the stability of the region. Time and again, the Karzai government and NATO have raised concerns over Pakistani military’s alleged support for the Afghan Taliban. It has seriously contributed to the trust deficit and hostility which now defines Pak-Afghan relationship. However, it is this very controversial connection between Pakistan and the Taliban, which will be heavily relied upon to resolve matters in the months and years ahead. PM Nawaz Sharif assured his counterparts, that Pakistan did not have any favourites, and the people of Afghanistan should ultimately be allowed to decide their own future. Sounds great, but it is hoped that the policy adopted by Pakistan is reflective of the PM’s statement.

To move forward towards a much-desired peaceful future, it is imperative that Pakistan and Afghanistan take concrete measures to redefine their destructive relationship. There is not much point in hatching conspiracies and playing games. That has been the way of things so far and clearly, it hasn’t worked. The prosperity and security of citizens, on both sides of the borders, should always be the top priority. In this big talk of strategic depth and strategic assets, the populace regrettably finds itself forgotten and condemned to a lifestyle which has absolutely no semblance of normalcy. Review, reform and implement.