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America's way out of dependence on Pakistan: Iran

America’s dependence on Pakistan is a key source of regional instability. The only way out is to find an efficient alternative supply route for NATO supplies into Afghanistan. The Chabahar Road through Iran provides that alternative – if Washington will consider its benefits.

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Soldiers escort a convoy of trucks carrying supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan at the Pakistan border town of Chaman July 16. Op-ed contributor Neil Padukone suggests the Chabahar Road through Iran as an alternative supply route. 'By weaning Washington off its dependence on Pakistan and even reorienting Afghanistan’s future, Iran may be an important solution to the problems that cost America blood and treasure.'

Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters

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Recently Pakistan agreed to reopen the supply routes that connect Afghanistan with NATO supplies from the Arabian Sea. The decision was made after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for US airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers seven months ago. The announcement seems like a ray of hope after a line of scandals that have marred the US-Pakistan relationship. But in many ways, this is just an upturn in an otherwise vicious cycle: America’s very dependence on Pakistan is the key source of regional instability. The only way out is to find an efficient alternative.

After the toppling of the Taliban in 2001, Pakistan became America’s main overland link to Central Asia. As a result, Washington has relied on Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s military headquarters, for access to Afghanistan. In fact, this dependence has existed for decades, from America’s efforts to balance, and later fight, the Soviets until today’s war in Afghanistan.

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