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America’s Stay in Afghanistan Not Factor of Stability: Former Envoy to Iran

“There is a currency swap between Iran and Russia, Iran and China, so why not with Pakistan”

ISLAMABAD (Nov 17, 2018): American’s stay in Afghanistan is not factor of stability in Afghanistan as it’s contributing to the misery of the Afghan people.

In an exclusive interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), former ambassador to Iran Mr. Asif Ali Khan Durrani said it is a very positive development that Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan are together trying to restore peace in Afghanistan.

He added that Iran and Pakistan already have a dialogue process on Afghanistan and now they have just participated in Moscow process and there are reports that Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan are also in talks with Taliban which shows that all these countries want a peaceful solution to the Afghan problem.

He said that Americans should realize that there is no military solution to Afghanistan problem and after 17 years they have lost $ 900 billion and they are losing every year almost $45 billion but the end result is that Taliban are still in the control of 50 percent of the country and other 20-25 percent is contested area.

“So in such a situation Americans’ stay in Afghanistan is only contributing to the misery of the Afghan people; America is not factor of stability in Afghanistan,” he added.

The former envoy also favors currency swap with Iran for trade. “I think there is a good ground for both the countries to have a firm currency swap agreement. I am an ardent supporter of currency swap. Now this is being done between Pakistan and China and if it can work there it can work with Iran also,” he said.

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He said that there is a currency swap between Iran and Russia, Iran and China, so why not with Pakistan.

The former ambassador said that lack of banking channel is the main hurdle in economic ties of Iran and Pakistan and if they enter into currency swap, the trade between the two countries can be increased.

“The trade between Iran and China is close to $30 billion so Pakistan should also enter into a currency agreement with Iran to boost trade,” he noted.

Asif Durrani expressing his views said that Pakistani banks are not ready to do business with Iran right now and the reason being is they are scared. He added that Pakistani banks are scared because all of their business is in dollars so if they do business with Iran even through currency swap they might land into difficulty.

Durrani said Pakistan along with completing Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project should also purchase electricity from neighboring Iran.

The former diplomat said that there have been pressures on Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project, “even when we were negotiating and the agreement was not signed, there was the American pressure but despite that pressure we signed it in Chabahar and I myself went to Chabahar and I was present in the ceremony.”

“I am positive that it is taking a while but ultimately we will have Iranian gas here,” he said. The analyst said the IP is a very doable option, very practical option, and not only gas but purchasing electricity from Iran is a very feasible option for Pakistan.

He said Iran has surplus electricity and the country is also ready to give 3500 MW to Pakistan so this should be negotiated. “I am sure the new government would also look into that,” he said.

Asif Durrani said that turmoil is only in the Muslim world and nowhere else so we have to look at it whether we are contributing to this turmoil.

“We have to take effective measures to address these problems even if we have to go at extra mile and that is why Pakistan by displaying its neutral stance on Yemen war is in a position to mediate on the issue and Iran had already welcomed Pakistan’s mediatory role when former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief visited Iran and Saudi Arabia in early 2016,” he said.






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