Pak, Iran need to expand bilateral cooperation, says Iranian scholar | Pakistan Today

Pak, Iran need to expand bilateral cooperation, says Iranian scholar

ISLAMABAD: Iranian scholar Dr Sadollah Zarei said on Saturday it was imperative for Pakistan and Iran to work together and expand bilateral cooperation in wake of the US President Donald Trump’s new policy for the region.

Delivering a lecture on ‘Prospects of Pakistan-Iran Cooperation for Regional Peace and Security’ here at Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI), he believed that need for cooperation between Pakistan and Iran had increased manifold. “Iran believes that a secure Pakistan would make Iran more secure,” said Dr Zarei, who heads an Iranian think tank named Andishe Sazan-e Noor.

He also said that there could be many elements of stronger ties between Pakistan and Iran, but the most important plank was the much needed bilateral security cooperation. He warned that absence of security cooperation could lead to further insecurity and instability in the region.

The Iranian scholar also underscored that both sides needed to show flexibility to overcome the minor problems in their relations. He also warned against the presence of continued external forces in the region and said that they had given nothing to countries here except for chaos and violence.

He also noted that the US was wrong to accuse Pakistan of allegedly sponsoring terrorist elements, adding that it was rather the Americans that were benefitting from the situation.

National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar, who presided over the session, said: “Both the countries [Pakistan and Iran] are consulting on regional peace and security with a focus on Afghanistan, in keeping with their strong commitment to peace, stability and progress in Afghanistan.”

The scholar also observed that there was a strong determination in both capitals to deepen mutual understanding, increase cooperation and scale up Pak-Iran relations. “Efforts being made to improve border management are a concrete manifestation of this forward-looking approach. Moreover, both countries are working on long-term projects that will increase the scope of economic relations,” he added.

The committee chairman maintained that projects like Pak-Iran gas pipeline, supply of electricity from Iran, starting of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, reactivation of Pak-Iran Business Council, opening of an additional international border and establishment of border markets could be tangible steps for revitalising Pak-Iran economic relations.

IPI Executive Director Professor Sajjad Bokhari, speaking on the occasion, also emphasised on the need for greater cooperation for dealing with threats to regional peace including the emerging threat of Daesh.

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Member Senator Farhatullah Babar said that continued diplomatic engagement was necessary to bring down mutual distrust. ANP leader Senator Afrasiab Khattak spoke about the strength of people to people relations in Pak-Iran ties and said that they were independent of the governmental relations.

Ummat-e Wahida President Allama Amin Shaheedi said that fighting terrorism was in the mutual interest of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan and added that it formed a common agenda for the promotion of relations.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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