Their bilateral relations are badly dented, so much so that even an influential power like China has not succeeded in making them negotiate for peace. But on Monday, May 15, Pakistan and its western neighbour Afghanistan made operational their new bilateral engagement framework - Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) in quest for peace in one of the most volatile regions of the world, Pakistan's leading daily Dawn reported.
"Both sides agreed that effective and full implementation of APAPPS would contribute towards the common objectives of eliminating terrorism and achieving peace, stability, prosperity and development of the people of the two countries," the report quoted a statement jointly issued by the foreign ministries of Pakistan and Afghanistan as saying.
The statement came after the Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led a delegation to meet Afghanistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and his team over APAPPS. Pakistan and Afghanistan have been working on the framework for some time but it was only after Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Kabul in April at an invitation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that they decided to operationalise the agreement.
The two heads of government asked their respective foreign ministers and security advisers to give the pact the finishing touches.
The agreement has seven principles of understanding between the two sides, the Dawn reported, and some of them are: Pakistan would support Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation; joint undertaking of actions against fugitives and irreconcilable forces that pose threat to the security of either of the two countries or both; disallowing use of their respective territory by any country, group, network or individual; not indulging in blame game publicly, etc.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have also put in operation six working units to look after the well-being of APAPPS, which reportedly has backing of both the US and China.
The Haqqani Network factor
The relation between Kabul and Islamabad has witnessed a deterioration over the latter's alleged backing of the Taliban who are at loggerheads with the Afghanistan government. The two countries have specifically clashed over Pakistan's alleged harbouring of the Haqqani Network, the Taliban-affiliated faction which is considered a major threat to Afghanistan's stability.
Pakistan reportedly backs the Taliban to scuttle India's chances to play a constructive role in Afghanistan while Kabul and Washington back New Delhi as a key player in the reconstruction of the war-torn country.