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Iran's New Opportunity to Improve Relations With Pakistan

While all eyes were on the nuclear talks with Iran last week, Iran was actually looking at new possibilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan as US withdrawal from the region draws near, writes Meir Javedanfar. The dynamics of Iran's relations with its rival Pakistan have changed since the US invasion, much to Iran's favor.  
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (L), Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari (C) and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad join hands after a news conference in Islamabad February 17, 2012. Ahmadinejad, accused by the West of pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, said in Pakistan on Friday foreign nations were determined to dominate the region and this should not be allowed.   REUTERS/Mian Khursheed  (PAKISTAN - Tags: POLITICS)

While eyes are on the nuclear talks, Iran is looking at new possibilities in Afghanistan. The majority of US and NATO forces are set to leave Afghanistan in 2014, and Afghanistan will be holding elections the same year. These events could provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with a new set of opportunities for its Afghanistan policy. 

Post-revolution Iran has found Afghanistan to be a challenging place — not only because of its fractious political system and the ongoing war there, but also because of its rival, Pakistan. For years, Iran and Pakistan tried to undermine each other's influence in Afghanistan. Before the US invasion of 2001, they even fought proxy wars. Pakistan supported the Taliban government and the Iranian government backed its rival, the Northern Alliance, headed by the late Ahmad Shah Masoud. The two fought a bitter civil war which ended when the US invaded Afghanistan and beat the Taliban with the help of the Northern Alliance.

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