Tripartite Meeting Brings South Asia's Security Concerns to the Fore

    Security at home and on their borders emerged as the predominant concern of a rare tripartite meeting between three South Asian countries embattled with considerable violence and resulting displacement.

    Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan vowed to eliminate extremism, militancy and terrorism in the region at a one-day summit in Tehran on May 24, but without intervention from the United States.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blasted foreign interference in the region's security issues, stressing that they can handle these internally.

    "They have been imposed by people who have no close historical or cultural proximity to us… and the foreign troops in the region who came here under the pretext of bringing security have also not succeeded," he said, referring to mostly U.S. forces stationed in Afghanistan, according to Agence France-Presse.

    At the same time, the three countries agreed to strengthen cooperation to crack down on the drugs trade – the rampant production, smuggling and trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic substances that have caused much instability in the region.

    Afghanistan generates 90 percent of the world's supply of opium and is believed to help fund the Taliban.

    The narcotics trade and long years of violence in the region have caused millions of refugees to move across borders.

    Conflict in Afghanistan, which has gone on for a quarter of a century, has seen millions flee and some 900 children die each day, according to Reuters.

    Tripartite cooperation is seen going beyond security issues as well. In a communiqué from Tehran, the three countries agreed to promote links in social concerns such education, health, sports, culture, art and economic matters including energy, transportation, industries, mining, agriculture, cattle breeding and environment.

    The three leaders are trying to show, and prove, that they can tackle the region's most pressing challenges on their own.

    As Afghan President Hamid Karzai put it: "We are faced with several problems, but there are also opportunities for finding a solution through dialogue and talks. We have to bring about security and stability for our future generation who live in the region."

    Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari even suggested that the next meeting should be more development-oriented.

    About the author

    • Josefa Cagoco

      Sef Cagoco served as one of Devex's international development correspondent from mid-2008 to mid-2009. Her writing focused on social entrepreneurship and multilateral agencies such as the U.N. and Asian Development Bank. She previously worked as senior reporter for the national daily BusinessWorld and a production journalist for the Financial Times.