Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan Vow Cooperation on Terrorism

Posted February 17th, 2012 at 12:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The leaders of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have jointly pledged to strengthen cooperation on eradicating extremism, terrorism and militancy in the region. At the end of a trilateral summit in Islamabad on Friday, officials of the three countries also vowed to contribute to the development and reconstruction in Afghanistan. From the Pakistani capital, Ayaz Gul gives more details.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari hosted Friday's tripartite meeting, which was attended by his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Their discussions focused on enhancing cooperation among the three neighboring countries to strengthen border controls, and to eliminate regional terrorism and the trafficking of narcotics from Afghanistan.

The three presidents then jointly addressed a news conference to discuss details of the summit. Speaking through an interpreter, Iranian President Ahmadinejad blamed “some countries” for the problems facing the region, but he did not name any country.

“There are countries determined to dominate our region and they have targeted our region for their domination and hegemony … Today, clearly all these powers are interfering in our internal affairs, in the affairs of our region with a military presence. We believe that the problems of the region must be solved regionally … We should deny others the opportunity to interfere in our affairs.”

The Iranian leader was apparently referring to the United States and its Western allies, which have recently imposed new sanctions against Tehran over its controversial nuclear program. Iran is also opposed to the U.S.-led military intervention in Afghanistan.

Efforts aimed at promoting reconciliation between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents were also discussed during the trilateral meeting, as well in bilateral talks between President Karzai and his Pakistani interlocutors.

Speaking at the joint news conference, the Afghan president was cautiously optimistic about the talks.

“I can also perhaps in a certain way talk about a good conversation, a good dialogue with our brothers in Pakistan … What we need now is to formulate a policy that is actionable and implementable.”

Afghanistan has long alleged that key insurgent leaders, including Taliban chief Mullah Omar, are hiding in Pakistan and supervising the Afghan insurgency with the help of Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the ISI. Islamabad has consistently denied the charges. President Karzai's government believes Pakistan can help bring the Taliban to the negotiating table for peace talks.

But speaking to reporters after President Karzai's talks with Pakistani leaders, Islamabad's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar described as “unrealistic and almost ridiculous” Afghan expectations that her country can deliver the Taliban leadership for peace talks.

“Deliver Mullah Omar? You know, if that is the expectation, there is no reality check then. Then they are not only unrealistic, but preposterous.”

The Pakistani foreign minister reiterated that her country supports any peace effort in Afghanistan that is owned by the people of that nation. But she suggested that Afghan leaders are unclear about how they want to initiate the peace and reconciliation process with the Taliban, and what kind of help they want from Pakistan.

The United States, which is leading the counter-insurgency efforts in Afghanistan, has recently acknowledged contacts with the Taliban to help them open a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar in order to further the Afghan peace process. The insurgents have also confirmed the contacts, but they have rejected engaging in any peace process with the Karzai government.