The joint declaration of the tripartite summit held in Islamabad recently has raised many an eyebrow especially in Washington. In particular, the presence of Iranian President Ahmedinejad was an eyesore to US policymakers. However, the People’s Republic of China has, without mincing words, termed the summit a good omen for peace in the region. Its Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Hong Lee said at a briefing session that the meeting of the three heads of states including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Islamic Republic of Iran would pave the way for ensuring stability in their respective countries besides contributing to ensuing peace in the region. In his view the summit has provided a forum where the member states could establish contacts with regular intervals. Iran and Pakistan have currently been engaged in negotiating early commissioning of the gas pipeline project and the two sides have also expressed their desire of early commissioning of the project that would benefit people of the two countries. But this idea has consistently been opposed by the United States on one pretext or another. American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter has, in a public statement, said Pakistan seeking import of gas from Iran was not a good idea. In fact, the US Administration has all along been wishing Islamabad would drop this idea and go for the TAPI pipeline instead. Washington has successfully persuaded India, which was a partner in the project initially to opt out.

The United States is also against China playing a major role in the South Asian region and it was with this purpose that it started building India as a counterweight to Beijing. Now that Washington is planning to pull out its forces from Afghanistan facing a certain defeat, closer contacts among Islamabad, Kabul and Tehran would not suit it. There is hardly any doubt that the US would like India to be its proxy in Afghanistan, the fact that is being resented by Beijing as a conspiracy. It is the need of the hour that the leadership of three neighboring Muslim states should formulate a strategy to deal with the situation that will arise when foreign troops leave Afghanistan. They also have a common interest in dissuading foreign interference in their respective countries. There is a dire need that these three countries must avoid any interference in each other’s internal matters. The tripartite summit in this regard is a good beginning and all it needs to prosper is continuous follow-up.