Opinion and Editorial

Iran-Pak-Afghan Alliance?

Filed on May 26, 2009

The picture says it all, the three leaders walking hand in hand, appearing satisfied with the outcome of the first-ever trilateral meeting in Tehran, hosted by the Iranian government.

As Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed to develop trilateral cooperation on the issues of terrorism, drug trafficking and to boost trade, an important chapter in the history of the three regional states began.

The significance of the meeting draws from the recognition of forging regional alliances to resolve common security threats and socio-economic challenges. Besides, as expected, Ahmadeinjad voiced strong criticism on the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, terming it as the major factor for destabilisation in the region. Despite the scathing attack on foreign intervention from the Iranian president, the US and NATO member states should welcome the formation of a regional bloc, constituting three important states that are directly involved in Afghanistan’s stability.

US President Barack Obama has been pushing for greater regional involvement to help stabilise Afghanistan, including that of Iran. It is learnt that the three leaders have also expressed willingness for other states to participate in future meetings. This would in all probability, be the US, some NATO states and possibly Russia, China and India. Afghanistan continues to hold a pivotal position in US foreign policy and its stabilisation is not only of paramount importance in its immediate vicinity, but also impacts other states in the region, including the Gulf States.

The other significant development was the signing of an initial agreement between Iran and Pakistan on the long awaited $7.6 billion IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline, which was being opposed by Washington previously. Overall, it is heartening to see the three neighbouring states reach a level of understanding and cooperation.

Though presence of foreign troops may be a necessary evil at present, in the long run, it is the regional states that must deal with regional challenges. The consolidation of a trilateral cooperation is a vital beginning that must be encouraged for the future of regional peace and stability.

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