–PM Imran, FM Qureshi, COAS Bajwa tell Iranian FM Pakistan looks forward to strengthening ties with Tehran
–PM calls for unity among Muslim countries to counter Islamophobia
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s civil and military leaderships on Friday assured the visiting Iranian foreign minister of Islamabad’s continued support to Tehran “in this hour of need”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who arrived in Islamabad on Thursday for a two-day visit, held detailed talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan, his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and later with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday, with both sides underlining the need to promote bilateral relations in all areas of cooperation.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Khan, Zarif delivered a message of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inviting the Pakistani PM for the upcoming Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit in Iran in October. Both Pakistan and Iran are members of the organisation and Iran currently holds its chair.
Welcoming the Iranian FM, Prime Minister Khan thanked the Iranian Supreme Leader’s support for Kashmiris’ struggle for self-determination as well as for the manner in which Pakistan Independence Day was celebrated in Iran.
Recalling his recent telephonic conversation with President Rouhani, the PM said that Pakistan and Iran were connected by inseparable bonds of historic, religious and cultural affinities. He added that during his tenure, Pakistan would make all efforts to cement these relations in various areas to the benefit of both countries.
Referring to cancellation of the blasphemous Dutch caricatures competition following the Pakistani government’s strong condemnation and protest recently, Prime Minister Minister Khan underlined the need for Muslim countries to confront Islamophobia with one voice. The love and respect of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), was part of every Muslim’s faith and no one could be allowed to disrespect it, he stressed.
‘PAKISTAN STANDS BY IRAN’:
Welcoming the dignitary at the Foreign Office earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi noted the potential for “strengthening the already strong bilateral relationship” between Pakistan and Iran.
Detailed discussions were also held on regional and global issues, including the situation in Afghanistan and the United States’ decision to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — more commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.
In May, President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iran deal, terming it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”. The US government had also reinstated all sanctions waived as part of the nuclear accord and imposed additional economic penalties as well.
Britain, France and Germany had urged the Trump administration not to revoke the deal, arguing that the agreement was the best way of stopping Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office had also expressed concern on US’s withdrawal from the deal, saying that the decision would affect the world community’s efforts to solve the “conflict” with Iran.
During the talks on Friday, Qureshi “supported Iran’s principled stance” and expressed the hope that remaining parties to the Iran deal would uphold their commitments. The foreign minister, according to the press release, reiterated that Pakistan stands with Iran “in this hour of need”.
Qureshi stressed that Pakistan greatly values Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “strong and unswerving support for the just struggle of the people of Kashmir”.
Zarif, meanwhile, congratulated Qureshi on “Pakistan’s strong protest against the blasphemous caricature competition had led to cancellation of the event”.
ZARIF MEETS GEN BAJWA:
FM Zarif also called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), regional security situation and other matters of mutual interest were discussed.
The army’s media wing said the visiting dignitary “acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan’s contributions for conflict prevention in the region”.
Iran has been warming up to Pakistan after remaining lukewarm for decades and potentially sees its neighbour as part of the emerging regional bloc that could include Russia and China. Iran this year celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day in an unprecedented manner, displaying large greeting hoardings along major highways in Iranian cities.
The Iranian FM’s trip comes ahead of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Joseph F. Dunford’s visit to Islamabad next week for talks with their counterparts.
They are also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.