SOUTH ASIA-IRAN: SHIFTING REGIONAL TIES ISOLATING ISLAMABAD

Created: 12/30/1998

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Office of Near Eastern. South Asian, and8

South Asia-Iran: Shifting Regional Ties Isolating Islamabad

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Soulh Asia-Iran: Shifting Regional Tics Isolating Islamabad |

Pakisfjiin-Iranian Ri-hilfons Sour

Pakistan bas long realized the necessity of maintaiiiiag good relations with neighboring Iran, but differences overwhich both countries view as central to their respective foreign polices -have strained relations sincehen tbe Pakisiimi-spoDsored Taliban took control of the Iran-Afghan border and Tehran began actively supporting the anti-Taliban coalition:

Although some Pakistani iplc-rnals have warned that continued support to tlie Taliban could backfire, most Pakistani officials believe the Taliban offers the best chance oftable. pto-Pakistan government in Afghanistan, which would benefit Pakistan gcostraiegically and economically.

Tehran resents Pakistan's support for the Sunni Taliban, which Iran viewshreat to stability along its eastern border and the well-being of Shia rrunonties in the region. Tehran considers theational security threat because of the group's trafficking in illicit drugs across Iranian territory, the poicrtttaJ for the Taliban to incite unrest among Iran's Sunni rninorily. and the Taliban's challenge to Iran's Islamic leadership in the region:

Iran's suspicion of Pakistan's Afghan policy has -'xir-Ascd since tte killing last September of nine Iranian diplomats by the Taliban, for which Tehran blames Islaruabixl.

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