A letter to the International New York Times emphasizes the importance of Pakistan in helping Afghanistan. It also mentions the low volume of trade between Iran and Afghanistan due to the American sanctions on Iran.
“America has finally ended its prolonged war in Afghanistan. The American withdrawal from Afghanistan, however, does not mean that US interests in the region will wane. America wants a prosperous, peaceful and stable Afghanistan and knows that after its withdrawal from the region, a war of influence will break out among Pakistan, Iran and India.
“The Afghan state is seeking the holistic support of neighbours to fight terrorist elements, to ensure the continuity of democracy in the country and the stability of its economy. America wants to give a special role to Pakistan to carry out counterterrorism exercises in the region, as it appreciates serious efforts made by Pakistan against terrorism. Americans also know that the presence of India in Afghanistan will damage peace efforts, something which the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, also made clear during the Saarc summit and other forums when he said that ‘Afghanistan will not let its lands be used for proxy war.’
“Pakistan and Iran can play important role in post-Nato Afghanistan for peace and stability of the country as Pakistan has great influence in the Pashtun-dominated areas of southern Afghanistan while Iran enjoys influence in the Tajik and Uzbek populated areas in western Afghanistan.
“But Pakistan-Iran bilateral relations are not ideal due to certain factors, such as the suspended Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, activities of drug mafia near the Pakistan-Iran border, cross-border raids by militants near the Balochistan border and the low trade volume due to American sanctions on Iran. Without resolving these issues, Pakistan and Iran cannot work on mutual defence practices in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s armed forces are making serious efforts to defeat and eradicate terrorism and extremism from the country, their endeavours backed by Afghanistan’s intelligence.
“The new Afghan president aimed to confront security dilemmas faced by Pakistan and Afghanistan during his recent visit to Islamabad. President Ghani wants to bolster security and defence ties with Pakistan, including cooperation in training and border management.
“He is also seeking Pakistan’s help in talks with the Taliban to avoid any instability in post-Nato Afghanistan. Improved bilateral ties with Afghanistan will help Pakistan defeat the TTP and other terrorists who have shelters in Afghan territory. Afghanistan’s recent handover of prominent senior commander of the TTP, Latif Mehsud to the Pakistan government and Afghan military’s operation against the TTP in Kunar are the initial benefits enjoyed by Pakistan which is the result of improving relations between the neighbours.”