The recent border skirmishes at Torkham that left four people dead have left a bad impression. Pakistan and Afghanistan have been neighbors long enough to understand the needs of each other and to respect them so for this to happen was very unfortunate. Delegations from both countries met immediately after the incident to work out their problems and this is a good move for it not only allows for candid discussions on what happened but will set the tone for future talks. During discussion it was realized that there was a need for creating suitable mechanism for consultation on border management issues. Effective border management is vital for promoting peace, countering terrorism and strengthening relations between the two countries. Afghanistan for long has opposed any border regulation for it does not recognize the Durand line. The recent building of a gate by Pakistan at Torkham was seen as a move to regularize and thus the incident at Torkham happened. Standard operating procedures are needed for border management and it is high time that Pakistan and Afghanistan come to some sort of agreement on that. Further discussions were held in a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit held in June, Pakistan and Afghanistan established a high-level bilateral mechanism as part of efforts to repair their strained relationship.Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz held talks with the Afghan Foreign Minister and the National Security Adviser in Tashkent.The meeting took place at the request of the PM Adviser to resolve the controversy surrounding new border rules Pakistan started implementing from June 1 at the Torkham border.Building upon ideas generated in the meeting between Foreign Secretary and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister and their delegations in Islamabad earlier, both countries agreed to set up a high level bilateral mechanism. The new arrangement will primarily focus on promoting consultation and coordination on key issues, including bilateral relations and cooperation on security and movement of people and vehicles between the two countries.The proposed mechanism would be co-chaired by Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and would include the National Security Advisers of both countries.It will also have a joint technical working group to deal with the concerns of both countries. Hopefully this Mechanism would be not only address and amicably resolve issues of mutual concern but also prevent the recurrence of violent incidents such as the recent incident in Torkham. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan need to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and adherence to the principle of non-interference into each other’s internal affairs. They should focus on promoting peace, stability and economic progress of both the countries. Firm commitment to continue serious efforts towards eliminating terrorism is also needed. Pakistani gate construction at the border has been a point of contention between the two governments but it has to be seen in the bigger context. Pakistan is facing security threats and with an unregulated border there is no hope of ensuring security as unwanted persons can cross border as they wish and that is of course detrimental to Pakistan. So for that sake it is imperative that Afghanistan realizes the gravity of the situation. Mr. Sartaj Aziz has made it clear in recent days that Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan is now clearly based on strict border management, return of Afghan refugees and clear demand to Afghanistan and international stakeholders in Afghanistan for prompt actions against anti Pakistan terrorist elements in Afghanistan. Also it is the collective responsibility of Pakistan, Afghanistan and international stakeholders to create an environment for reliable civic structure in Afghanistan so that the return of Afghan refugees may be processed at the earliest. Pakistan has been generously hosting refugees for decades and only recently reaffirmed its commitment to them. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has permitted registered Afghan refugees to remain in the country until the end of the year. The government had previously set a June 30 deadline, after which Afghan refugees would have been deemed to be staying in Pakistan illegally and would be at risk of deportation. The decision to extend the stay of the refugees was announced by the PM and he directed authorities to immediately engage the U.N. refugee agency and the Afghan government to gradually relocate refugee camps in Pakistan to Afghanistan.”In order to facilitate relocation and as a gesture of continued goodwill, Pakistan shall commit provision of wheat for the relocated camps in Afghanistan for a period of three years, free of cost,” PM Sharif said in a statement. The continued goodwill of Pakistan towards the Afghan people must not be seen as a sign of weakness. Pakistan wants good relations with Afghanistan and in order to do that it is willing to extend its help and its cooperation in any and every form.