There is a long history of warm ties amongst Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. In an effort to further strengthen this bond of friendship, the presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran met in Islamabad for a trilateral summit that focused on regional cooperation for ensuring peace and stability. The first trilateral summit between these countries was held in 2009. The third summit was held on Feb 16 and 17th in Islamabad. It was attended by President Zardari, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This conference was held in the backdrop of US efforts to negotiate directly with the Taliban for peace talks, something not welcomed by Tehran and Kabul as this can have serious repercussions in the regional context. Iran has always stood by Pakistan in difficult times and never left her alone in the time of disasters.

The trilateral mechanism is important for Pakistan since it involves matters pertaining to cooperation in counter-terrorism, curbing transnational organised crime, including drug and human trafficking, and border management. Apart from the issues of trilateral concerns, the Afghan and Iranian presidents also discussed their bilateral relations with the Pakistani authorities. Pakistan and Iran also held talks regarding Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline on the sidelines. Despite strong US objections, Pakistan has proceeded ahead with a multi-billion-dollar project to build a gas pipeline to import fuel from Iran.

The three states discussed ways to bring peace and normalcy back to Afghanistan through increased regional cooperation. Trilateral summit carried forward their commitment to the much cherished goals of expanding political, security, economic and cultural ties, maintaining peace and stability in the region and attaining prosperity for their people. Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are bound by brotherly relations rooted in common faith, people’s aspirations, close affinities, mutual trust and commonality of interests. The people of Pakistan hold the leadership of Iran and Afghanistan in high esteem, and seek more people to people contacts between these three countries. Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have always stuck together through thick and thin, and have extended full cooperation and support to each other.

FARHAN BASHIR SHAIKH,

Islamabad, February 17.