The Potential of Economic Cooperation in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan to Challenge Western Dominance and Achieve SDGs

As of April 2023, Iran remains on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist, while Pakistan has recently been removed from the greylist in October 2022. Meanwhile, Afghanistan, despite criticism of its theocratic government, has not been placed on either list. Some have attributed Pakistan’s removal from the greylist to its ousting of Imran Khan, which is seen as a reward from the US, while others speculate that Afghanistan is being facilitated by the US under the Doha Peace Accord.

However, economic cooperation between these three countries has the potential to challenge the dominance of Western countries and render forums like the FATF ineffective. The proposed market would enable public and private economic institutions to cooperate, all banks to transact with each other, and traders to trade freely, despite any restrictions. Through such cooperation, self-sufficiency in industrial, scientific, and technological sectors can be achieved, thus rendering FATF’s blacklist and greylist irrelevant.

Iran’s resistance to Western economic principles has allowed it to neglect the FATF blacklist, while Afghanistan’s growing economy through post-US Afghan-Iran barter trade is an example of bypassing the FATF to defend national interests. Cooperation between these three countries can provide opportunities for economic development, reduce reliance on Western trade partners, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By strengthening economic and political ties with neighboring countries, Iran can reduce its vulnerability to UN-imposed sanctions, while Afghanistan can achieve greater stability and security, leading to a more favorable environment for lifting UN-imposed sanctions. Pakistan’s removal from the greylist can also promote economic development and cooperation, creating a more conducive environment for achieving the SDGs.

In conclusion, the proposed economic cooperation between Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan has the potential to challenge Western dominance, render forums like the FATF irrelevant, and achieve the SDGs. By promoting economic development, increasing regional cooperation, and improving diplomatic relations, these countries can reduce their vulnerability to Western economic sanctions and achieve greater self-sufficiency.

Note: This report has been prepared by Maryam Habib and Dr. Muhammad Asim for Pak-Iran Intellectuals Forum (Qom Office).

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