Pakistan: winning over Tehran and Kabul

March 13, 2010

iran pakistanAccording to the Iranian foreign minister, quoted by Press TV, this week’s visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Islamabad was related to plans for a trilateral summit between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The relationship between the three countries and potential influence on Afghanistan gets a lot less attention than the strained ties between India and Pakistan. But it’s worth watching closely for the way it can shape the regional competition for influence in Afghanistan ahead of an expected drawdown of U.S. troops in 2011.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in Kabul this week, and shortly afterwards Karzai flew to Islamabad.

Press TV quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying that while Karzai’s visit was “not directly linked” to President Ahmadinejad’s trip, it was related to a decision made during talks with the Iranian delegation about holding a trilateral summit in Islamabad. “I think based on the negotiation between Ahmadinejad and Karzai, he will also be in contact with President (Asif Ali) Zardari,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

Pakistan had long been suspicious of Iranian influence in Afghanistan, but has been making efforts recently to improve relations with Tehran.  Its ambassador to Tehran suggested last month that Pakistan had helped in the capture of Jundollah Sunni rebel group leader Abdolmalek Rigi, who Iran had said was based in its Baluchistan province.

Karzai, meanwhile, after building a close relationship with India after the fall of the Pakistan-backed Taliban in 2001, made all the right noises in Islamabad about improving relations there.  Islamabad says India has been using its presence in Afghanistan to destabilise Pakistan, particularly by backing a separatist revolt in Baluchistan (which operates separately from Jundollah) — a charge New Delhi denies. It looked sourly on Karzai’s close ties with New Delhi which it saw as underpinning a proxy war in Afghanistan between Pakistan and India which had spilled over from their long-standing dispute in Kashmir.

Speaking in Islamabad, Karzai said he did not want any country using Afghanistan against another. ”The bottom line is, Afghanistan does not want any proxy wars on its territory,” he said.  “India is a close friend of Afghanistan but Pakistan is a brother of Afghanistan. Pakistan is a twin brother … we’re conjoined twins, there’s no separation.” 

Karzai is keen to achieve some kind of reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban. But with Pakistan arresting Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other Taliban leaders, it has made it clear that any reconciliation will need its help.

That puts it in a uniquely strong position to set the terms for any eventual political settlement with the Taliban – expected to include a requirement that India scale back its presence in Afghanistan.  Getting Tehran on board in this rather complicated juggling act — if necessary by helping Iran crack down on Jundollah – would strengthen its hand further.

(File photo of the three presidents together at an earlier meeting.)

20 comments

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[...]     Re: A titanic power struggle in Kabul (Karzai out, Zahir Shah in?) Pakistan: winning over Tehran and Kabul | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters (File photo of the three presidents together at an earlier meeting.) According to the Iranian [...]

Pakistan needs to understand that it cannot expect to have a relationship with Afghanistan that is exclusive of others in the region. Pakistan wants to be the sole conduit between Afghanistan and others. This is tantamount to controlling the country to suit its regional objectives. Pakistan still believes that it is a major power and wants special privileges and acknowledgment of that belief. It needs to understand that exclusiveness will cause more friction between itself and others, if it really is serious about co-existing in peace. Its military wants this friction alive as much as possible in order to sustain its grip on power. Afghanistan is a sovereign nation and it wants to exist in peace with everyone including Iran and India. In order to drive its view point Pakistan has been trying to sabotage all efforts between Afghanistan and its other regional friends. They are suspicious of others which is unnecessary and they need to sit down and understand that there are no ghosts around. If they did that, everything will fall in line. The burden lies on Pakistan’s paranoia being addressed. It has to realize that everyone is not an enemy and every country has its own issues and business to attend to.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Myra:

Few questions on who will train the ANA and Iran/Af-Pak/India?

1. Am I right in assuming that ultimate decision to train Afghan troops will be decided by USA, not by Karzai?

2. If history is any guide, Pakistan offering its help to train Tajik-dominated Afghan Army clearly have arisen out of sole reason of Pakistan’s fears that India will train Afghan Army which will be unacceptable to PA. But Pak’s proposition seems ridiculous considering how much Tajik Northern Alliance (anti-Taliban) and Pak (pro-Taliban) were pitted against each other before 9/11. Essentially, now Pak proposes to be pro-Tajik and anti-Taliban. It will take a lot to swallow this.

3. Is it possible that Iran can train the Afghan Army? What’s the hesitation: Iran is a neighbor, a Muslim nation and a friend of Afghanistan, Iran was pro-Northern Alliance too. With India factor absent, this will also test whether Pakistan is really against Taliban.

Apart from what Pakistan thinks, I see USA a big hurdle in this. USA did not support Northern Alliance to fight against Taliban just because Iran and Russia, who are considered to be anti-USA, were helping Northern Alliance and also did not want to piss Pakistan off. When the water ran over the bridge, USA did finally decided to help Northern Alliance and other related groups, sometime before 9/11. But that was too late. If everything falls in place and if it is only the USA that will prevent Iran training ANA, will it not be repeating the same old mistakes by USA. Why not Iran train ANA.

4. Do you see China being asked to train ANA?

5. Why not United nations take step in this direction than leaving it to one or the country? This is big why.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Its time for the the 3 AN’S (AF-IR-PAK) to work together to provide better living for the Afghanis. After all they have suffered the most as there country being at war for so long… I think all afghans want is peace but NOT at price where they have to bow down to Idiots, uncle Sam or the Europeans.

Afghanistan effects these two neighours more than anyone else so therefore they should take the initaives and lead by example. They should work on mechanism to work together so Afghanistan can be peaceful not used by USA to harm Iranian nation as well as NOT used by idiots to harm Pakistan.

When an attack happens and few idiots also get blown up for being in the wrong place, without even blinking its blamed on the notorious ISI. Rcently pakistani workers have also been attcked and killed in South Afghnistan… But I have not seen any one blaming Idiots. Its called find out facts before you point the finger as well as have response in place my idiot will know what I mean when I say response. Even though India has achieved a lot in many fields, but they do not understand if IDIOTS could go to Afghanistan to look after THEIR intrests than what makes you think pakis will NOT?

I agree Pakistan has lot more to gain for having good relation with India, but as I read not even ONE indian sorry idiot would want that (maybe mr Khan but we seen the reaction he got for saying couple of sympethtic words for paki players) as reading the comments of idiots you can feel the hate, akahnd bharat thoughts, why even bother saying “lets talk about talks” when deep down in your their is SIMPLY hatered nothign else and will use any means to harm Pakistan. What else would one expect from a true enemy of beloved nation.

Idiots please grow up we all know where india is at fault also where pakistan is at fault. Its time to get passed that and actually talk about the core issues which are recignised by all the world community except for idiots. Which is that Kashmir is a disputed teroirtory ever wondered why on all international maps Kashmir on both sides is shown as NOT indian nor pakistani but controled by both not forgetting the china part.

Take deep breath idiots before you reply I can look forwards to another week off work and when I get back surley there will plenty of response as useual. U know why truth always hurts so if you had any dignity you would get your coward army out of the valley as thats what the kashmiris want if unsure go under your rapest army protection and see for yourself. If you want to see AZAD kashmir I am willing to show you what you want to see and where you want to go… But I gather thats not possible for me but where we waited to see next of kin for six decades we have enough patients to wait and see. How long can India OCCUPY the Kashmiris against their wills with the gun only time will tell.

Posted by Magic786 | Report as abusive

rajeeve…

Its been a long time since I have read your biased viewpoints and reading some above does not surprise me either…

“But Pak’s proposition seems ridiculous considering how much Tajik Northern Alliance (anti-Taliban) and Pak (pro-Taliban) were pitted against each other before 9/11. Essentially, now Pak proposes to be pro-Tajik and anti-Taliban. It will take a lot to swallow this.”

Pakistan does not propose to be pro-northern or pro-pashtun but yes since all pashtuns live on the border lands so yes there is more understanding with them.

Idiot…let me get this right. Afghan Army…. that should have soldiers and officers from all ethnic Afghan groups not just your northern alliance puppets since its army which will look after Afghanistan intrests not just one parties. I think its you thats being idiotically ridiculous…I think it will be hard for India to swallow, the fact the Afghan army will be trained by Pakistan or even Iran. I dont really care as long its a neighour even better as you said a muslim neighour.

“What’s the hesitation: Iran is a neighbor, a Muslim nation and a friend of Afghanistan,….”Iran was pro-Northern Alliance too. With India factor absent, this will also test whether Pakistan is really against Taliban.”

I think what you are trying to say who ever has been pro-northern alliance is an afghan friend who ever is close to the pashtuns is anti-afghan. You use any silly justification anyway just to test Pakistan or simply try to paint a silly picture. Isnt it time your countries sincerty should also be called into question? For example all those counslates on the border with Pakistan surley NOT there to issue paki visa lol.

Rajeeve remeber that pashtuns are the largest majority in Afghanistan at the moment beside the dummy puppet Karzai the pashtuns do not even have proper representation. Going with your logic you do not want anything to do with pashtuns in regrads to being in the army nor in the government.

When you do not include the largest ethnic group what do you expect peace to prevail. But than again you sitting in the bombay slumps possibly what would you know expect watching few bollywood movies and few doses of star news to enhance your knowledge. You think you are expert on region maybe try to apply for advisors job with Mrs Singh NOT.

Just like I dont you will like PA to train Bangla army as understandable its same we feel why should india do that job when there is Iran,Pak,Chinese even the US!

Posted by Magic786 | Report as abusive

Indians would not like PA to train bengali army so vise versa we would not like to spreading your doses to the afghans as you are dashing out anti-pakistan venom on this or trying to.

Posted by Magic786 | Report as abusive

“Why not United nations take step in this direction than leaving it to one or the country? This is big why.”

How about asking UN to implement its resoulution on kashmir as well in Palestine with full force….. that would be a good start.

Posted by Magic786 | Report as abusive

India is not fighting for a piece of the Afghan pie. It will wind up all its projects the moment the official Afghan government tells them to do so. Pakistan has no say in this whatsoever. So far, Hamid Karzai’s government has been appreciative of what India has done for Afghanistan and that is all that matters. If the Afghan government wants India to train its military force, India might do it or decline it. Things have not even got that far yet. Iran can help Afghanistan, but the Americans will not allow them to get involved. For all you know, the Americans might use Afghanistan as a base to get into Iran if the nuclear issue gets out of hand. It is obvious to everyone except for Pakistanis that it is Pakistan that is desperately pushing for India’s complete exit from Afghanistan. It is trying violent means again through its proxies to blow up Indian missions. India will take it just like its counter offensive at Siachien. India can sustain this long distance conflict for as long as it takes, if Pakistan challenges it. So it is up to Pakistan to decide what it must do. It is simply not possible to arm twist India by violent means. And Pakistan has fallen victim due to this wrongful belief. If Pakistan does not make a conscious effort to rid itself off of all terrorist assets, it will suffer even worse. That is all is left to do now. Taliban is beginning to take on the Pakistanis and if you guys keep focusing on India, you will be gobbled up from behind.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

“Pakistan still believes that it is a major power and wants special privileges and acknowledgment of that belief.”

We know Pakistan is and be assured as well! So forget day dreaming and start believing. Ever wondered why is it just hollow chest thumping from idiots but no action.

I know idiots claim Azad kashmir as there so where is the bottle to take it? Since all idiots believe they won all the wars so why NOT take what you believe is yours…

It might be easier said than done, I gatherd that. If I was a idiot with five times bigger army more weapons not forgetting more dollars so whats stoping you to take whats is rightfully yours (NOT) in your blind eyes. Maybe the other side takes the same eyes out and shove it where the sun dont shine….possibility!

I should say India is just a sleeping elephant dont care if it gets smacked here and there. As indians portray every attack is by the ISI backed people. Surely if you are so sure go and hunt erm down… I dare you!

Posted by Magic786 | Report as abusive

Magic786:

Look a##hole, first off you are an embarrassment to yourself that you run away when asked questions. I asked Kashmir specific questions 11 times and you vanished. Shame on you sissy. So there is no point talking to you. So you get the hell out of here since you are not a Pakistani and Pakistan occupied Kashmir has nothing to do with Afghanistan.

It is beyond your intellectual capacity to understand even a decade old history. Even Pakistan newspapers supporting Kayani (check article in Reuters previous blog) fail to understand how the hell can PA who was allied against anti-Taliban Northern Alliance (which now makes much of of ANA) will train it especially when Pakistan was pro-Taliban. What Pakistan says now means crap until proven.

Just chill and wait for Kashmir solution.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@Going with your logic you do not want anything to do with pashtuns in regrads to being in the army nor in the government.”
–Magic786

–Who said that? All ethnicities must be represented. Neither Pushtoons nor non-pushtoons or Karzai govt is a fan of Pakistan and you think Pakistan should train ANA.

Now ask yourself, how much Pushtoons in Afghanistan love pakistan. If you say Taliban, that is another story and with that I agree. For your safety, do not go to Afghnanistan and call yourself a Pakistani. You know how Zaid Hamid was driven even out of Peshawar by Pushtoons. Check out.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Empty skull: ” If I was a idiot”

You already are one. There is no need to speculate.

“with five times bigger army more weapons not forgetting more dollars so whats stoping you to take whats is rightfully yours (NOT) in your blind eyes. Maybe the other side takes the same eyes out and shove it where the sun dont shine….possibility!”

Too much opium inside the empty skull. It makes no sense.
The guy is talking about gouging eyes out. Come out of the cave and look at the real world.

“I should say India is just a sleeping elephant dont care if it gets smacked here and there.”

Elephant can crush a rat. But the rat runs here and there to escape being crushed. If the rat feels that courageous, may be it should stand still near the elephant’s foot and wait to be crushed.

“As indians portray every attack is by the ISI backed people. Surely if you are so sure go and hunt erm down… I dare you!”

In other words, you are indirectly admitting that ISI is a criminal organization. So crushing them should be done by the government of Pakistan. But since you are asking Indians to do it, it looks like the government of Pakistan exists only on paper. We can surely hunt the ISI and its terrorist organizations down. Ask your President to send us a letter and we’ll gladly do it.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

From last I checked India has pretty good relations with Afghanistan and Iran. Afghanistan gains a greater sense of security by having good relations with (Iran, Pakistan and India). If Pakistan has a relationship with Afghanistan were they treat them as equals it would benefit everyone.
One of the issues that all regional countries, U.S., and Europe need to cooperate on is the issue of drugs in Afghanistan. As far as I know drugs are responsible for deaths in all of those countries. I wish we could figure out some industry that would do well in Afghanistan that would take that country out of poverty.

Posted by BenjMarineCorps | Report as abusive

The Pakistanis are cowards. The PA would have been run down by AlQuaedas and Talibanis but for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Posted by Bharateey | Report as abusive

Pakistan has nothing to gain by having good relations with india. If you neighbour is evil and have bad intentions of robbing you by “so called peace talks” or “fire power” then it is betters to be vigilant about that neighbour.

india is being encourged to attack PK by their so-called friendly “international community” however india is not having a courage to throw an arrow to kill a sparrow towards pakistan. indians know that if they do any mischief it is not “71″. The response will be devastating for them.

The best chance for lasting peace in that region is to let have referendum in “Kashmir’, Western countries leave that region.

Kashmiris should not be deprived of their self determination just because they are “Muslims”.
It is right time that india correct its bludner of occupying Kashmir and give a date of troop pullout from Kashmir and letting Kashmir unite with PK. If indians will keep playing games then they will be biggest losers as they are now.

Posted by agtagola | Report as abusive

First, I wonder why reuters’ moderators allow certain offensive comments in the first place. If comments are scanned for abusive words by a software, its high time you guys update your dictionary. This blog is for posting meaningful comments. People may have difference of opinions and perspectives (and conspiracy theories are okay too) but I’m sure Reuters wants it to be civil at the very least.

Secondly, I’m surprised why few of the sane posters in this blog would respond to people who are constantly posting personally offending comments. A person constantly calling others “idiot” and running away when counter-questioned (without fail, every time) is bound to get it left, right and center physically in both civilized societies and “ghettos where azad kashmiris roam in UK with 10 yo mothers”.

Do you guys really ever talk to disheveled naked mentally-challenged people on the streets? If not, why even call someone an a##hole, as if he himself does not know it.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

You Indians call us Pakistani cowards that fought off the great power USSR from 1979 to 1989 until their defeat in Afghanistan. Without Pakistan Army helps the USSR occupation would not have been destroyed. Where was India licking the boots of USSR then? Now India is pretending to be the best friend of USA well let me ask you what happened to your friendship with USSR? Just because USSR is now finished as a super power it was when it attacked Afghanistan you were their best friend? Well let me warn you that you are just licking the boots of USA cause USA is the only great power presently.

May I ask where is you disloyalty India? When the next depression comes with USA’s debt situation USA may well not remain the so-called great power so will you then lick China’s boots???

I am sure India you will as you have no morals and no loyalty to real friends so USA deserves your friendship as they also are fond of self-deception and will never honor real friends like Pakistan!!!

Posted by ratee | Report as abusive

Excerpts from Wikipedia about Indo-USSR (Russian) relationship:

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had major repercussions for Indian foreign policy. Substantial trade with the former Soviet Union plummeted after the Soviet collapse and has yet to recover. Longstanding military supply relationships were similarly disrupted due to questions over financing, although Russia continues to be India’s largest supplier of military systems and spare parts.

The relationship with USSR was tested (and proven) during the 1971 war with Pakistan, which led to the subsequent liberation of Bangladesh. Soon after the victory of the Indian Armed Forces, one of the foreign delegates to visit India was Admiral S.G. Gorshkov, Chief of the Soviet Navy. During his visit to Mumbai (Bombay) he came on board INS Vikrant. During a conversation with Vice Admiral Swaraj Prakash, Gorshkov asked the Vice Admiral, “Were you worried about a battle against the American carrier?” He answered himself: “Well, you had no reason to be worried, as I had a Soviet nuclear submarine trailing the American task force all the way into the Indian Ocean.”

India’s ties with the Russian Federation are time-tested and based on continuity, trust and mutual understanding. There is national consensus in both the countries on the need to preserve and strengthen India-Russia relations and further consolidate the strategic partnership between the two countries. A Declaration on Strategic Partnership was signed between former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in October 2000.

Russia and India have decided not to renew the 1971 Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty and have sought to follow what both describe as a more pragmatic, less ideological relationship. Russian President Yeltsin’s visit to India in January 1993 helped cement this new relationship. Ties have grown stronger with President Vladimir Putin’s 2004 visit. The pace of high-level visits has since increased, as has discussion of major defence purchases. Russia, is working for the development of the Kudankulam nuclear plant, that will be capable of producing 1000 MW of electricity. Gazprom, is working for the development of oil and natural gas, in the Bay of Bengal. India and Russia, have collaborated extensively, on space technology. Other areas of collaboration include software, ayurveda, etc. India and Russia, have set a determination in increasing trade to $10 billion. Counter-terrorism techniques are also in place between Russia and India. In 2007 President Vladimir Putin was guest of honour at Republic Day celebration on 26 January 2007. The year 2008, has been declared by both countries as the Russia-India Friendship Year. Bollywood films are quite popular in Russia. The Indian public sector oil company ONGC bought Imperial Energy in 2008. In December 2008, during President Medvedev’s visit, to New Delhi, India and Russia, signed a nuclear energy co-operation agreement. In March, 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed an additional 19 pacts with India which included civilian nuclear energy, space and military co-operation and the final sale of Admiral Gorshkov along with Mig-29K fighter jets.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

@ Now India is pretending to be the best friend of USA well let me ask you what happened to your friendship with USSR?”
–posted by ratee

—Thanks for the commercial break! lol….Can you have friendship with a dead man? USSR is no more.

@May I ask where is you disloyalty India?”
–No where, how about yours..everywhere?….lol

I know everyone is bad guy in this world—the dead man USSR, One who feeds you–the USA and of course enemy India. There is only one country with morals and a true friend—-The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, except that it raped and killed 1-3 million of its own citizens. Pak just kills its own with F-16s and helicopter gunships as we speak. But that’s a small thing.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@ agtagola: “india is being encourged to attack PK by their so-called friendly “international community” however india is not having a courage to throw an arrow to kill a sparrow towards pakistan”

Can you please enlighten us, as to who exactly is encouraging India to attack Pakistan?
Secondly, it’s the ignorance, stupidity & false pride of delusional Pakistanis like you, which makes you think that India is ‘scared’ to attack Pakistan. The truth is that India is smart enough, not to attack a failed & imploding state, which is on a ‘self-destruct’ mode.

@ “If indians will keep playing games then they will be biggest losers as they are now”

How about a reality check buddy?
Despite the global recession, India’s economy is growing at 7-8% (fastest in the world) & it is recognized by the world as an upcoming power, while your beloved country is a failed & bankrupt state, looked upon by the global community in very poor light. Anyone, with a little bit of brains will be able to tell you, who’s the loser & who’s not.

@ Ratee,

Do you know the meaning of ‘licking boots’?
Having good diplomatic & business relations with other countries (which India does) doesn’t tantamount to licking boots BUT taking a begging bowl & trotting around the globe with chests swelling with pride (which Pakistani leaders are accustomed to doing) does actually equate to ‘licking boots’. So the next time, you have this urge to blurt out a fact-less & stupid statement, think about it for a second.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

@Reuters Moderators, Magic786

Dear Reuters, this behavior by Magic786 has gone on long enough. This individual is embarrassing himself, his country and Islam and tarnishing the image of the Reuters blogs, please have IT block this individual from posting any comments here on. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of hate. His behavior is hurtful and hateful and has no place here.

@Magic786,

You are an embarrassment to yourself, your family, your country and Islam. The way you talk, you should have your privilege to post revoked.

If Reuters does not kick you from here, it is apparent that you are being allowed to make Pakistan look really Stupxd and lowly.

You are ignorant, hateful, tell half truths and conspiracy stories here and your madrasa terrorist promoting behavior has no place here or any where in the world. Kindly please go away and remove yourself from here forthwith.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

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