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Pakistan-Iran Relations

It is high time that Pakistan and Iran should attend to their mechanisms for productive interactions not only on political but also on military level to counter the looming threats that recent developments in the region had posed to both countries.

Pakistan and Iran share over 900 kilometres common border. Traditionally, Pakistani frontiers with Iran have always been peaceful, safe and secure. Iran was the first country, to recognize Pakistan as an independent country in August 1947. In fact, there have been historical linkages between the people of Pakistan (the then India) with Iranian people. The people and civilization of Indian subcontinent had very effectively absorbed Iranian traditions and so much so that Persian became language of literary elite and later the official language. Since Iran had its security concerns from the former Soviet Union and strained relations with Arab world, therefore, emergence of a non-Arab Muslim country on its neighbourhood provided her a relief. Similarly, Pakistan, being victim of Indian aggressive stance and hostile Afghanistan, took Iran as its strategic partner.  Iran proved that partnership during 1965 and 1971, Indo-Pak wars. It also militarily assisted Pakistan in the early years of inception. Both the countries were part of a Cold War alliance called the Central Treaty Organization Ceto). Iran supported Pakistan during war of 1965 with India, by sending over squadrons of airplanes and extra tanks and other arms, Pakistani fighter jets were often sent to Iran for fuelling and other tactical purposes. In the 1971 war Pakistani planes were sent to Iranian bases for protection from the enemy. Similarly Iran sent its jets at Pakistan Air Force Bases during the Iran-Iraq War.

Both the countries maintained their bilateral relationship as good neighbours. Pakistan, Iran and Turkey established Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), an inter-governmental organization for socio-economic development in the member countries in 1964. The organization later became Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in 1985 and its membership increased to ten in early 1990s by including Central Asian States and Afghanistan. Following the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, Pakistan became the first country to recognize Revolutionary Iranian Government. Pakistan sent a high-level delegation under foreign minister to assure Iran that, it intends further cementing its traditional relations with the latter. During Iran-Iraq war, Pakistan played an active role to negotiate a deal between two countries to end the war. Moreover, Pakistan provided moral and diplomatic support to Iran during that war which eventually annoyed Iraq and Arab world. Unfortunately, both countries developed minor differences over the interim setup in Afghanistan after the  withdrawal of Soviet Union and later on the issue of the support to Taliban by Pakistan and Northern Alliance by Iran and India. In view of those differences, Iran did not support Pakistan Kashmir issue in1996 when Pakistan was presenting a resolution in United Nations on Human Rights violations in Kashmir. It was a serious blow to Pakistani efforts.

Pakistan however, continued its efforts to maintain its friendly relations with Iran. Pakistan always has persuaded Iran for the reconciliation to set aside the differences. Through a progressive reconciliation and diplomatic efforts, both countries have come closer to each other in the last few years. Unfortunately, in 2009, a suicide attack allegedly by Jundallah militant group killed over forty people including senior commanders of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Sistan-o-Balochistan.

“Pakistan always has persuaded Iran for the reconciliation to set aside the differences. Thro-ugh a progressive reconciliation and diplomatic efforts, both countries have come closer to each other in the last few years.”
The Government of Pakistan strongly condemned the attack and shared the grief and sorrow of the Iranian people over the massive loss of innocent lives. Regretfully, immediately after the terrorist attack, a number of Iranian leaders blamed Pakistan for that. Pakistan Government, however, strongly denied its involvement in the incident and assured Iran for an all out support to find and punish all those responsible for the attack if found on Pakistani soil. The incident however deteriorated the steadily improving relationship between two brotherly countries.

Recently, Iranian ambassador Mashallah Shakeri was addressing a farewell ceremony held in connection with the end of his tenure in Pakistan.

‘Iran takes pride in the fact that with the export of natural gas and electricity to Pakistan, it would be able to transform its economy and ensure provision of energy to every single house, factory and workplace in the country’ he said.

‘We hope that the mega project of bringing electricity to Pakistan, that is 1,000 MW of electricity, and even more than that up to twice that figure, will be operational soon. Today Iran, with a production capacity of 63,000 MW of electricity, can easily meet the requirements of Pakistan’ he added.

Tehran stood by the Kashmiris and supported their just cause. Iran’s position on Kashmir clearly reflected in the remarks of the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. On November 16, 2010, Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in his message to the Haj Pilgrims called for providing assistance to Kashmiris engaged in resistance struggle.

Now, under the changed global environment, there is a need that both countries should forget past annoyances and forge a new long-term common vision for their common security and economic interests. The temporary slit in the Pak-Iran relations has no sound basis. The fleeting sourness thus can be alleviated through enhanced interactions at all level from both sides. Mutual trust deficit, prevailing over the years has to be ameliorated on priority basis. Both need to realise the impending threats in the regional and global context.

It is high time that Pakistan and Iran should attend to their mechanisms for productive interactions not only on political but also on military level to counter the looming threats that recent developments in the region had posed to both countries.
-JWT Desk

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