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Security guarantees to be formalised

February 18, 2012

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Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (L), Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari (C) and Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) join hands after a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad on February 17, 2012. - AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran agreed here on Friday “not to allow any threat emanating from their respective territories against each other and commence trilateral consultations on an agreement in this regard”.

Under ordinary circumstances, this agreement would have been seen in the context of Pakistan-Afghan problems, but an aggravating crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme and a growing likelihood of an Israeli or US attack on the country attach broader connotations to it.

The presidents of the three countries, at their summit, agreed to bolster their counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics cooperation despite bitterness during bilateral parleys between Pakistan and Afghanistan over allegations related to Taliban.

The three sides agreed to “strengthen cooperation for eradicating extremism, terrorism and militancy and to address the root causes of these menaces, condemn the killings of civilians as well as any kind of assassinations, cooperate in combating the problems of narcotic drugs production and trafficking and in combating trans-national organised crimes”, a joint statement said at the conclusion of the trilateral summit, which focused on security, border control, trade and eliminating drug trafficking.

They settled on broader aspects of what was dubbed as ‘enhancing trilateral cooperation’ for realising “shared aspirations of their peoples for peace, security, stability and economic prosperity”.

Speaking at a joint press conference along with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidency, President Asif Ali Zardari defended Pakistan’s ties with Iran. “We need to inter-depend on each other. Our bilateral relationship cannot be considered or undermined by any international pressure of any kind.”

The Iranian leader said his country’s relationship with Pakistan was based on humanitarian and common values, and that peace and fraternity were the common goals of the three countries and their nations. “We are shaking our hands to achieve this. We have great hopes of victory in future.”

The commitments made at the two previous editions of the trilateral engagement have largely remained unfulfilled, a fact acknowledged by the joint statement as well.

“The three presidents stressed the need for implementation of the earlier decisions taken at the trilateral summits held in Tehran in May 2009 and June 2011.”

Despite the sorry reality, the leaders appeared optimistic about the future of the tripartite forum.

President Ahmadinejad stressed that problems of the region must be resolved regionally, terming the trilateral meeting a step to achieve such goals. “We are here to strengthen and solidify cooperation between the three countries. We are going to move towards removing problems.”

President Karzai said any impediments in the way of enhanced cooperation had to be removed sooner than later. He expressed satisfaction over recent engagements between the three countries as “fruitful and deep” and expressed hope they would be helpful in understanding the affliction brought upon the people of Afghanistan.

In reply to a question, President Zardari dispelled a notion that the country’s armed forces were directly or indirectly involved in supporting extremist or terrorist elements.

He, however, said there could be some elements in the country, whom he termed “residue of war”, who could be blamed for militancy. “These persons are remnants of the war in Afghanistan,” he said.

President Zardari and Mr Ahmadinejad reiterated their full support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, inclusive process of peace and reconciliation.

They assured President Karzai that they would extend full cooperation and stressed that any initiative in this regard must have authentic Afghan ownership.