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"The international community has enough moral courage to negotiate the Iranian nuclear deal which was earlier became a hostage to American unilateralism," a research associate of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) tells ILNA.

Ume Farwa who is a gold-medallist in M.Sc. International Relations from National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Islamabad tells in an exclusive interview with ILNA news agency that this time the US administration is different but one should not dismiss this fact that whatever the administration is in the Oval office, Israel lobby is too strong anyways. She believes "Another biggest obstacle, I feel, is the perception of the Iran in the eyes of US".

Ume Farwa also has been working on many issues related to Pakistan and China and her area of research is Russia, Afghanistan and Central Asia. She also covers the opportunities for Pakistan coming from changing global economic landscape and international power structure.

You can read her full interview with ILNA news agency as follows:


Q: How do you analyze tension in Afghanistan?

A: The current situation in Afghanistan does not bode well for the future. According to Reuters news agency, Taliban have now controlled 85% of Afghan territory. This sorry state of affairs indicates how weak the Kabul government is in the face of Taliban onslaught. This grim situation could have managed in a better way if the Ashraf Ghani government did not have wasted time in blaming Pakistan.

In hindsight, the present situation seems to be moving towards another bloody civil war. Coupled with an irresponsible withdrawal of US troops, the Afghan land is no less than a ticking clock which can wreak havoc in its neighbourhood. And the problem is the region has suffered by instability in Afghanistan for a long time. But now the regional countries are exhausted and waiting for long overdue peace. 


Q: Will tension of Afghanistan brings problems for region?

A: Certainly. There is no doubt about it. Afghanistan has been a hotspot of instability for many decades. The problems and menaces that emerge from Afghan are not of one kind. They are more of like medusa, multifaceted and lethal in many ways. The biggest threat that Afghan instability poses is terrorism and religious radicalization which is felt all across its neighbouring space. In central Asia, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan particularly, the spill over effect of these two unfortunate phenomenon are visible. Pakistan, in particular, have badly suffered from Afghan troubles.

Above all, the Afghan refugee has created a catch-22 situation for Pakistan. We hosted the refugees for more than two decades but then its effect of economy and social fabric of the society presented a very grim situation for us.

In the wake of current tensions in Afghanistan, Pakistan has decided to emulate the Iranian model on refugees. We are also closing the borders on the refugees. This time, it must be up to the people and the ruling structure, let's see how it turns out to be, to decide the fate of refugees.


Q: How do you analyze decision of Biden for leaving Afghanistan?

A: President Joe Biden's statement on Afghanistan should not come as a surprise. It is only a reflection of Democratic Party on America's overseas wars in the world. He has made this clear in his election campaign as well that the Afghan war is not the US war but the UN and regional countries must take on their responsible role. However, the haste and speed with which the US troops are leaving seems irresponsible and reckless.

For example, The US forces left Battagram base, from which they were operating for two decades, without any prior information. Biden, in his statement, called this form of 'speedy withdrawal' as safe for the US personnel. Again, indicating in which state the US left Afghanistan: in the middle of chaos to say the least.   

The US is an extra-regional player having almost negligible stakes in the wake of an Afghan civil war. With an extra-regional player in Afghan situation, the regional power paradox becomes more complicated. We should welcome this statement because this indicates for an increased role of the regional players. Therefore, the regional countries must move towards adding a minus-US formula to Afghan equation.    

Interestingly, Biden's statement on Afghanistan proves Pakistan that Pakistan was stance was right all along. At the time of Bush administration, Pakistan was given an ultimatum whether "you are with us or against us" in this war despite the caution and counsel Pakistan extended to the US time and again. Based on its interaction and historical engagement with Afghan and its various sections, Pakistan's military and civil leadership that the US could not win the war in Afghanistan. The US lost its war in Afghanistan and it is time for the regional countries to up their guards for containing the spill-over effects to the Afghan soil only.


Q: What is role of Iran and Pakistan for peace of region and Afghanistan?

A: Iran and Pakistan are on one page regarding peace and security in the region amidst a chaotic Afghanistan. Both have been  a part of multilateral negotiations on Afghan peace and reconciliation process. Pakistan and Iran have been a part of Moscow peace process. From Doha to Istanbul, Islamabad and Tehran supported Afghan truce.

Both want to see peace in the region. Both want peace to prevail in Afghanistan for good by facilitating an equitable power sharing for warring Afghan factions.  

So, you can say, there are a lot of convergences between Pakistan and Iran on the issue of peace and security in Kabul and surrounding region. I would emphasise that, at the regional level, Tehran and Islamabad are two neighbouring countries of Afghanistan that have a large role to play in the peace and reconciliation process.    


Q: What is your analysis of the Vienna meeting?

A: It is a welcoming development. At least, it shows that the international community has enough moral courage to negotiate the Iranian nuclear deal which was earlier became a hostage to American unilateralism. So, the Vienna meet does have symbolic significance in many ways.


Q: Will the Vienna summit lead to the revival of the nuclear deal?

A: Although the Round Five on Vienna Meeting seems quite prospective for the talks on Iran Nuclear Deal, the practical output is still uncertain.  


Q: Will the US lift sanctions after Vienna?

A: It is a matter of time. let's see how things play out. major power politics in the Middle East also need to factor in. The partnerships of the regional countries with the major power does influence the overall US posture vis-a-vis Iran. I won't expect complete removal of US sanctions, however, a partial lifting of US sanctions seems be to one the horizon.


Q: Do you think the nuclear deal will be revived?

A: This question is redundant. I have answered in the previous question.


Q: Is there a determination to keep the nuclear deal alive?

A: Certainly, the resumption of dialogue on Iranian nuclear deal shows that there is determination in international community to keep the nuclear deal alive. However, to what extent? that question would be too early to answer.


Q: Parties of nuclear deal hope to get an agreement but they say there is long way to get success. Will we see deal in near future?

A: This is true and this seems very much in sync with the diplomatic language that is used for writing these agreements. I don’t see a nuclear deal in offing that fully satisfies Iran’s concerns. There is likely to be a nuclear deal that goes more in favor of the US and its ally. This time the US administration is different but one should not dismiss this fact that whatever the administration is in the Oval office, Israel lobby is too strong anyways. And it does exercise incredible influence in policy making in Israel.

Another biggest obstacle, I feel, is the perception of the Iran in the eyes of US. For gaining strong grounds on its overall foreign policy issues, Iran should address the ‘perception question’ in the long-terms.


Pakistan Vienna talks US administration US troop 2015 nuclear deal sanctions against Iran Afghanistan crisis Ume Farwa
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