May 24, 2021, 12:54 PM
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Regional situation quite conducive to strengthen Iran-Pakistan ties: Speakers

Islamabad, May 24, IRNA -- The experts from both sides say diplomatic relations between Iran and Pakistan are based on commonalities of language, literature, culture and religion adding the regional situation is quite conducive to strengthen bilateral ties.

They were speaking at a webinar jointly organized by Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan), DTN and Tehran International Studies and Research Institute (TISRI) on “Iran-Pakistan diplomatic relations: opportunities for cooperation and convergence”.

They said enhanced cultural collaboration and heritage tourism can bring the people from both sides closer to each other adding that youth engagement in a variety of sectors is imperative.

They viewed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could be another economic and trade bond for closer ties between Iran and Pakistan.

Regional situation quite conducive to strengthen Iran-Pakistan ties: Speakers

Chairman Pakistan Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize Islamic Republic of Iran. He added Persian was the court language of the sub-continent before the British came into the area.

“Iran has been through lot of struggle and Pakistan has always stood by it,” he said.

The MP said Iran and Pakistan have no conflict of interest. 

Mushahid said three factors will promote ties between Iran-Pakistan in the near future. First, CPEC and regional connectivity are key to the economic future of both Pakistan and Iran.

“With the Iran-China deal a plus for Pakistan, securing Pakistan’s Western flanks and good for development of Gwadar Port,” he noted.

He said second, with instability likely in Afghanistan post-US withdrawal, counter-terrorism border cooperation and border management will bring the two countries closer as both seek lasting peace, stability and security in Afghanistan as well as on their border.

“Third, with pressures from the Biden Administration on both Iran and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan can play the role of a bridge between Tehran and Riyadh, especially on issues like Palestine and Kashmir,” added the Senator.

He said regional situation is quite conducive to strengthen Iran-Pakistan ties.

He noted Pakistan also supports revival of Iran's nuclear deal and removal of all sanctions on Iran as Pakistan too once faced discriminatory sanctions from the West. One new plus point is a closer rapport between the military and security establishments of both countries, with greater trust among them.

Mushahid added Iran has lot of interest in trade with Pakistan.

Iran’s former ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Mashaallah Shakeri, said Pakistan and Iran enjoy centuries-long relations in cultural, social, politics and economic and trade spheres. However, the historical developments resulted in the alteration of geopolitics in Persia and the subcontinent as well.

“But the drastic consequences regardless of their implications on geography or geopolitics of the region could never change the principle ties between the relevant territories and societies,” he said.

The expert added Persian culture, language and literature once were the elements by virtue of which the religion of Islam was introduced to some part of South Asia particularly to the region that is now known as Pakistan.

He said the two countries have always stood by each other in geopolitical developments. The former ambassador said there is huge potential for economic cooperation between the two countries. He said Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project can help Pakistan to overcome its energy problems. 

He noted the two countries can also work on setting up power transmission lines adding that rail and road links between Iran and Pakistan should also be promoted. He said that there is no direct flight between Tehran and Islamabad and there is a lot of room to promote maritime cooperation between the two neighboring states.

Mashaallah Shakeri went on to say that many neighboring countries of Iran like, Turkey, Iraq, UAE, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan are enjoying good volume of trade with the Islamic Republic despite sanctions.

To a question he said discussions on JCPOA are going on in Vienna and we want a positive out come from those talks.  “But the information we are getting for there is positive and there is good level of cooperation between Iran, Russia and China in the talks,” he said.

He said that peace is inevitable for the region and we are hopeful to resolve difference with Saudi Arabia. He said Iran and Pakistan also have good level of cooperation on Chabhar and Gwadar ports.

Regional situation quite conducive to strengthen Iran-Pakistan ties: Speakers

Research analyst and former ambassador to Iran Asif Durrani, said the strength of Pakistan-Iran relations is that they have no dispute, although they may differ in perceptions on specific issues.

He noted both have always cooperated bilaterally and at the international forums. In 2008, Pakistan supported Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Pakistan fully supports Iran’s right to access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

“Our ties with Iran have always been stable and we are proud on our ties with Iran,” said the expert on international affairs.

Ambassador Durrani said both countries face terrorism and separatism, at times foreign-inspired. Both live in insecure neighbourhoods and face varying degrees of external pressures.

“While from the beginning of its revolution, Iran had to face the wrath of the Americans, and Pakistan has been facing external pressures due to the Afghanistan situation,” added the expert.

He viewed Iran-Saudi rivalry has come as a big challenge for Pakistan’s diplomacy. Iran has appreciated Pakistan's neutral stance on Yemen, but it caused irritants in Pakistan-Saudi relations. A Saudi-Iran rapprochement is urgently needed to lower tensions in the Middle East.

He said that trade ties between Iran and Pakistan need to be further strengthened but American sanctions are a big hurdle in this regards. He said we need to have exclusive banks that deal in local currencies not in dollars to bypass the American sanctions.

He said that border markets are the practical way to strengthen mutual interest. Ambassador Durrani in his views said tourism sector of the two countries has lot of potential and needs to be fully explored.

The expert said there is a need to promote health sciences and technology as Iran has a wonderful success in the area.

Regional situation quite conducive to strengthen Iran-Pakistan ties: Speakers

Director South Asian Studies at TISRI Dr. Somaye Morovati said Iran and Pakistan have a long history of cooperation with regional organizations which would provide a good experience of economic, commercial and political relations between two countries.

She said the US has been a most influential foreign actor in Iran-Pakistan relations. The issue of India-US strategic partnership and the crisis in Afghanistan requires Pakistan to maintain a superficial relationship with the US despite tensions.

“Iran’s foreign policy in the face of sanctions is to strengthen relations with its neighbors despite the US designs against it,” she said.

Dr. Somaye Morovati said Iran's capacity to connect Pakistan across western borders and access Europe and the Middle East can boost is trade links. The Zahedan- Quetta railway is now connected with the national rail-grid of Iran which is linked to Turkey and beyond.

She said people-to-people contacts between Iran and Pakistan should be promoted. She said that people of the two countries don’t have appropriate knowledge about each other.

Former Pakistani inelegance chief and geopolitical analyst Lt General (retd) Muhammad Asad Durrani said Pak-Iran relations have generally been good – ranging from close to correct – at their peak before the Revolution. “During post Islamic Revolution era, the US, then our close ally in Afghanistan vacated and wanted our relations downgraded but we refused and have ever since represented Iranian interests in Washington,” he said.

He said after the American invasion of Afghanistan, the two countries started addressing irritants like Jandullah and with Russia, China, and Turkey joined hands to manage the chaos post the US withdrawal.

He added balancing our relationship with Saudi Arabia and Iran has been a challenge – mostly met with finesse.

Pakistani analyst Reham Khan suggested perception management to both foreign offices and to engage youth for cultural collaboration and joint ventures in many fields including cinematography.

“The good things shall be shared from both sides to negate the differences and propaganda. The CPEC would bring more opportunities for interaction and joint business ventures where culture and tourism could be the focus,” she said.

Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed moderated the discussion.

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