Aug 23, 2021, 4:42 PM
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Iran has undeniable role in Afghan peace: Speakers

Islamabad, Aug 23, IRNA -- Researchers and foreign affairs experts at an international webinar in Pakistan say Iran is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and is trying to have reconciliation inside Afghanistan.

The Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organized the Panel Discussion on ‘Conversations on the Afghan Peace Process: Iran’s Role in Afghanistan’.

During her opening remarks, Ms. Amina Khan, Director of CAMEA said that the situation in Afghanistan took a drastic turn when the Taliban took over, declaring the war in Afghanistan over. Despite assurances, President Ashraf Ghani made an unceremonious exit, leaving the Afghan masses angered, confused and most importantly abandoned.

She said Afghanistan will continue to be a major issue of concern for the international community and more so for the region.

She noted perplexed by instability in Afghanistan, regional actors like Iran have come to the forefront to play a more proactive and prominent role in Afghanistan.

Iran has undeniable role in Afghan peace: Speakers

“Considering the repercussions Iran has faced, Tehran shares a consolidated view with its neighbors over Afghanistan, entailing regional ownership, recognition of a inclusive political settlement, and role of the Taliban as a major component of a peaceful settlement as well as curbing transnational terrorist groups like the Daesh,” said Amina Khan.

Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General of ISSI in his views said that events in Afghanistan are unfolding at a breathtaking pace that has surprised everyone.

He added it remains to be seen what kind of government will come to Kabul and what approach Afghanistan’s neighbors will adopt.

“In this regard, regional countries have been calling for an inclusive government. He said one issue of important concern is to consider humanitarian assistance for the displaced Afghans,” he said.

Prof. Shahram Akbarzadeh, Deputy Director (International) of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Australia, said the leadership in Iran has been sending messages that the Taliban have changed and has been trying to play a hedging game by engaging with both the Kabul government and the Taliban.

On China, he said that Beijing has several concerns over the situation in Afghanistan particularly in terms of Chinese projects for regional connectivity, hence China has a significant role and interest in Afghanistan as it is trying to expand regional connectivity, as well as trying to create its image of a friendly regional actor and neighbor.

Iran has undeniable role in Afghan peace: Speakers

Prof. Amin Saikal, Adjunct Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia, in his views said that the Taliban take over in Afghanistan is a very positive development for Tehran particularly regarding US withdrawal. 

“As long as the government in Kabul is not hostile to Iran, does not cause security concerns and controls refugee flow to Iran, as well as addresses bilateral issues such as the distribution of water, Tehran will be very happy with the new government in Kabul,” he noted.

He was of the view that though the Taliban ideology has not changed their tactics certainly have changed, particularly with regards to regional and international recognition.

“If a Taliban government wants to be successful they have learned that it is important for their legitimacy to get recognition from the international community. Hence, Iranians will be watching the formation of the government closely and whether the minority Shia population of Afghanistan will have representation in the government,” he noted.

Iran has undeniable role in Afghan peace: Speakers

Dr. Mohsen Shariatinia, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Shahid Beheshti University (Iran) said at the moment it was difficult to say anything about Iran's role in Afghanistan as things are uncertain at the moment.

“Taliban is neither a friend nor a foe for Iran,” he said.

He added there are grave concerns of academia and the public in Iran, which view these developments as part of a new great game in the region.

“Failure of US-led government change in Afghanistan is a positive development for Tehran. It could pave the way for a potential regional solution to mitigate the crisis in coordination with Pakistan, Turkey, Russia, and China,” he said.

He said the Taliban's ideology and international communities’ behavior towards recognizing the Taliban are two significant points for Iran to consider before recognizing the Taliban.

Iran has undeniable role in Afghan peace: Speakers

Ambassador Asif Durrani, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Iran said on the diplomatic level Taliban are now not alien to the international community and this will probably influence Iran's stance towards the Taliban. He said that there will be a level of maturity in the future events which will take place in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan and Iran have stood shoulder to shoulder in their hard times and there is an emerging consensus between Pakistan and Iran regarding Afghanistan.

Mohammad Hashim Pashtun, Adviser for Research and Policy to Kabul Institute for Peace, said that due to the close historical political, cultural, and linguistic relations Iran shares with Afghanistan, the former can surely play a vital role in Afghanistan.

He said that there has been a positive change in the approach of the Taliban towards a more pragmatic attitude and underlined that while dealing with the Taliban, Iran must remain cognizant that third parties may try to play the role of a spoiler hence, Tehran must maintain brotherly relations with the government in Kabul for peace and prosperity of the region.

Iran has undeniable role in Afghan peace: Speakers

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG, ISSI said that the relations between Iran and the Taliban were inimical in the past but now the situation has taken a 180 degree turn.

He said Iran now views the Taliban differently. “The nature of Iran relations will depend on how much the Taliban put in practice their assurances. So far it looks like they are on the right path which is a good sign,” he said.

Dr. Saeed Ghaderi, Researcher at Institute for Political and International Studies (Iran) stated that Iran is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and is trying to have reconciliation inside Afghanistan.

He said Taliban must manage the situation peacefully with an inclusive government.

“Peace in Afghanistan now depends on the actions of the Taliban and the success of dialogue depends on the level of rationality in the Taliban leadership,” said the professor.

Dr. Saeed Ghaderi went on to say Iran wants a strong and inclusive government in Kabul that could deliver governance in Afghanistan.

“Iran, being Afghanistan’s neighbor, expects the Taliban to play a constructive role in addressing the regional challenges. Unlike other countries, Iran does not have any favorite group in Afghanistan. Violence and war are never the solutions, he said.

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