LAHORE - An Iranian scholar and foreign policy expert, Dr Sadollah Zarei has stated that religious extremism would ease off in the region after the planned US exit from Afghanistan
“There would be peace in the region as the forces breeding extremism would subside following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan”, he stated this in a interview with The Nation, Nawa-i-Waqt and Waqt News.
He was asked how the US exit from the neighbouring country would impact the region.
A professor at Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran, Dr Zarei was of the view that the expected development would also have positive effects on countries like Russia, China and India besides Pakistan and Iran.
“Relations between Pakistan and Iran would improve”, he opined.
He said that US would have to quit Afghanistan and even it would not be able to maintain some of its airbases and cantonments there.
He was of the view that Iran and Pakistan could exert pressure on the US to leave Afghanistan at the earliest.
“It is encouraging to see that the stance of Pakistan and Iran regarding early withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is the same”, he remarked.
Dr Sadollah who also heads Future-makers Strategic Study Centre, Tehran, said that the two countries could work together to end extremism to lay the foundation of durable peace in the region, urging that Pakistan and Iran should make their own decisions.
He also said Pakistan Army should come forward to stop drone attacks.
“It should be ensured that 1996 like situation does not arise in Afghanistan again”, he said. To a question on Syrian crisis, Dr Sadollah said that in the new world order, the US had ceased to exist as the world superpower, and its latest defeat on the diplomatic front over launching a military attack on Syria was a manifestation of America’s eroding influence in the world.
“The US is facing isolation at the world level as neither of the countries supported its stance on Syria.”
He said all major powers including it’s most trusted ally UK had refused to support US stance Describing the features of a superpower, the Iranian strategic expert said: “A superpower should have the capability to take along its allies on all issues, should achieve the set targets in a short span of time and should create moral and legal justification of its actions besides having the ability to remove hurdles in achieving the targets.” The US, he said had not been able to achieve its targets in the past 15 years. He disagreed with the idea that it was mainly the pressure from Russia and China that stopped the US from interfering in Syria. Why did the pressure from the two countries did not work in case of Iraq and Libya in the past? Why it only helped Syria?, he asked.
“After refusal from its otherwise trusted ally, the UK and Jordan to facilitate the military action, the US backed out; and after this, almost every country followed suit”, he made his point.
“Actually, the US wanted to express its anger by a low intensity attack, but later on it realised that the outcome would not be worthwhile. It was also established later that US wanted to attack Syria for personal vendetta and the world powers refused to oblige the US”, Dr Sadollah explained, as he termed it a biggest defeat of the US vis-a-vis the rest of the world nations. He disagreed with the perception that there was a monarchic system in place in Syria. “Asad’s family has been in power for the last over 40 years but the country has a political system and a Constitution. There is no dictator in Syria. Also, a Constitutional government is in place there”, he remarked, adding, that Syria had never supported imperialism unlike Saudi Arabia. “It has fought against Israel and protected country’s interests”, he said.
On the other hand, he said, Saudi Arabian monarchs have never done anything in the interest of their people.
“Around 6,000 Saudi Arabian Princes are utilising country’s resources who also own palatial homes in other countries. Asad has no such home in any other country,” he informed.
Quoting an article published in New York Times two months back, he said that it stated that if fair elections are held in Syria, Asad’s party would win the elections getting 60 per cent of the total votes.
He expressed concern over Pakistan’s policy on religious extremism stating it was ambiguous.
“Pakistan needs to have a clear-cut policy on the issue since it was not only tarnishing its image abroad but also damaging it internally”, he asserted..
He said that on the basis of his interactions with people and politicians in Pakistan he could safely assume that people as a whole don’t approve of religious extremism. “But as a state, it seems some times that Pakistan has a soft policy on extremism”.
He said it would be better for Pakistan to adopt a tough policy on religious extremists. “We fail to understand why Pakistan government had given freedom to certain forces fanning religious extremism in the country”. He lauded Nawa-i-Waqt’s role for promotion of Islamic values in the society and made special mention of its Editor-in-Chief Majid Nizami in this regard.
He informed that Iran was launching a new internet site with the nomenclature of ‘Al-Waqt’ which would be in Persian and in Urdu languages.
On Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline project, he said that it was vital for both the countries and also for India.
He welcomed Pakistan Government’s decision to sign the agreement despite foreign pressure, but expressed his dismay over the inordinate delay in signing of the agreement. He said people in Iran had doubts about former President Asif Ali Zardari’s sincerity to sign this pact because he made the decision much late when his government’s tenure was about to end.
To a question, he said that religion and politics could not be separated in an Islamic state.