Iranian President Mehmoud Ahmadinejad has said that no power could stand against Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, if they were united. Speaking at a dinner for politicians and intellectuals in Islamabad on Wednesday, the night before the D-8 Summit on Thursday, Mr Ahmadinejad said that it was only their own disarray which allowed the USA a place in the region. He did omit Turkey, which is also attending the summit, through its Prime Minister, Recip Erdogan. While, unlike Iran or Pakistan, Turkey is not an immediate neighbour of Afghanistan, it is certainly much closer, both geographically and culturally, than Afghanistan’s occupier. Mr Erdogan, who also arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday, met his Pakistani counterpart, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, with whom he shared his views on the Gaza situation, with the two Prime Ministers expressing agreement on it. President Ahmadinejad is known not to mince words when speaking about Israel, and besides, is under threat of attack by the USA as well as Israel itself.

Actually, President Ahmadinejad’s remark chimes in with the ethos of the D-8 itself. It is no coincidence that it consists of the eight largest Muslim countries, and accounts for the bulk of the Muslim world’s power. President Ahmadinejad pointed out how two D-8 members could help solve the problems of a third Muslim country. The addition of a third D-8 country would enhance the ability to help it. Similarly, if the D-8 countries were united, the Gaza problem, which now seems so impossible to resolve, would be much more amenable to a solution. Not only Egypt, which actually abuts the Gaza strip, but Turkey, which had citizens killed when an aid flotilla tried to break the Israeli blockade, and Iran, which has its own history of animosity with Israel, could contribute towards a permanent solution of the problem. It should not be forgotten that the D-8 was founded mainly though the efforts of Mr Erdogan’s predecessor as Prime Minister, and political precursor, Necmettin Erbakan, precisely so that it could be effective in problems like these.

No country could be more aware than Pakistan of the destabilising effects of the US presence in the region, which it has used its occupation of Afghanistan to establish. President Ahmadinejad’s remarks should provide the government food for thought to make it revise its policy to the USA.