TEHRAN — Kamal Kharrazi, head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said on Wednesday that Iran closely monitors the policies and behavior of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He said the main duty of any government is ensuring the rights of people, including providing security.
“This is also true of the current government of Afghanistan. Countering terrorism and preventing crimes such as the killing of innocent people in Shia schools and mosques by the ISIS terrorist group is primarily the task of the current government to purge terrorists from Afghanistan, and of course, it is the natural right of the oppressed Shias of Afghanistan to defend their rights.”
The remarks by the former foreign minister come as ISIS targeted a Shia mosque in Kunduz on Friday in which more than 50 worshippers were killed and more than 100 injured.
Top Iranian officials including the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and president condemned the attack on worshippers in the strongest terms.
The Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001 before they were overthrown after the September 11 attacks.
Kharrazi said the Taliban’s behavior after seizing power can be different from the previous time, and this should be seen in the Taliban’s attitude towards different ethnic and religious groups and establishing good ties with neighbors.
That is why Iran is closely monitoring the policies and behavior of the Taliban in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, he added.
“The interests of the Taliban and the interests of Pakistan, as the main supporter of the Taliban, entail a change in the Taliban’s behavior during its rule so that peace inside Afghanistan and good neighborliness with its neighbors can be achieved,” Kharrazi pointed out.
The former foreign minister added only then Pakistan will benefit from a stable neighbor such as Afghanistan, that could help its strategic depth.
He underlined, “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not intend to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, but of course, it has legitimate interests in that country that must be secured.”
Kharrazi elaborated that these interests are in the field of security of the two countries borders, preventing the activities of terrorist groups from infiltrating the Iranian territory, preventing drug trafficking to Iran, respecting the rights of Shiites and other Afghans, preserving and spreading the Persian language as part of the people’s heritage.
“Afghanistan should pave the way for the return of Afghan refugees living in Iran, to secure Iran’s access, develop trade and commerce between Iran and Afghanistan, and (the Taliban) participate in the reconstruction and development of the country,” he added.
He then stated that maintaining Afghanistan’s political independence is not only national interest, but a necessity for the development of peace and stability, and it is up to the Taliban to insist on Afghanistan’s political independence and prevent presence and influence of any foreign power.
“The presence of foreign forces for decades, including the U.S. and NATO forces, in the Afghan soil and the catastrophes they have created should be a lesson for the Afghan government and its oppressed people to never again become the hotbed of international and regional powers,” he emphasized.
Kharrazi concluded by saying that Iran’s policy in Afghanistan depends entirely on the behavior of the Taliban.
“If the path in Afghanistan is towards an inclusive government, protection of the rights and security of all ethnic groups, counterterrorism and the adoption of a good neighborly policy, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready for any cooperation,” the former foreign minister stated.
He then underscored that Iran is ready to assist the government and people of Afghanistan and will share all its experiences and capacities with “brothers and sisters” in Afghanistan.