The meeting between Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib in Rawalpindi might be crucial in the resumption of security dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan. COAS Bajwa must be commended in taking the crucial first step needed to thaw the frosty relations between the security apparatus of both countries. With the tense situation at our eastern border, it is even more important to stabilise relations with the western neighbour and ensure that talks continue without disruption.

The last meaningful dialogue between the two countries took place on the pretext of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), which had the repatriation of Afghan refugees as its focal point. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s invitation to visit Pakistan was extended to President Ashraf Ghani earlier this month and this meeting laid some important groundwork for any upcoming high-level talks that might be carried out with the Afghan government. President Ashraf Ghani’s visit will hopefully lead to a more well-rounded bout of talks, ranging from issues of security to economics. General Bajwa’s conversation with Mr Mohib and other prominent figures such as Acting Head of the Interior Ministry Mr Andrabi might also help in setting the tone for the imminent visit.

Reports reveal that topics under discussion included border security management and promoting peace in the region. The Pakistan Army’s success in fencing parts of the border and Afghanistan’s misguided offence at the move is one of the big stumbling blocks that prevents an improvement in relations.

Even though both countries have accused the other of not doing enough to control terrorist activities carried out on the other from each other’s soil, Afghanistan’s principle stance of not recognising the Durand Line as the official dividing line between the two countries is a political stance it has taken. Afghanistan must be made to see that long-lasting peace is only possible if politics gives way to practical mechanisms to ensure the stability of both countries; a border force not only prevents attacks from terrorists, it also helps in clearing away misgivings between the two states of using non-state actors as proxy assets.

With the current deadlock of talks between the Afghan Taliban and the US – the sticking point still being the demand of the Taliban and Russia for the complete withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghan soil – Pakistan’s stance of offering assistance for an Afghan-led peace process is one that has stayed consistent over the years. This is something that must be reiterated and Afghanistan should accept Pakistan’s genuine overtures in the interests of regional stability.