Trust-Build­ing with Iran

The Diplomatic Insight - - News - Dr. Ah­mad Rashid Ma­lik

Prime Min­is­ter Mian Muham­mad Nawaz Sharif un­der­took a two Repub­lic of Iran on 11-12 May. He met with Ira­nian Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Khamenei and Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani. This was the maiden high-level con­tact be­tween the two gov­ern­ments that came into be­ing in May and June re­spec­tively last year. vis­ited Iran in 1999. The visit aims to build trust be­tween the two na­tions by re­mov­ing down­ward tra­jec­tory cre­ated by the dif­fer­ences on the Iran-Pak­istan (IP) gas pipe­line project. Both na­tions have would im­prove frac­tured, strained and luke­warm ties ow­ing to geo-strate­gic, po­lit­i­cal, and eco­nomic rea­son­ing. The his­tory of Pak­istan-Iran re­la­tions had wit­nessed up­ward and down­ward trends de­pended upon re­gional and global pol­i­tics. The re­la­tions re­mained ex­tremely warm up to the end of the Sha­hen­sha Muham­mad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s rule. In the lat­ter part, re­la­tions wit­nessed new re­al­i­ties but marred by dif­fer­ences. Iran saw Pak­istan a pro-Amer­i­can satel­lite in the re­gion that greatly aligned with Saudi Ara­bia to op­pose Ira­nian revo­lu­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Sharif’s visit tended to shun many of these neg­a­tive per­cep­tions rightly or wrongly at­trib­uted to. Pak­istan needs to re­bal­ance its Mid­dle East pol­icy at a time when the whole re­gion is in tur­moil and Pak­istan’s needs not to tilt to­ward any coun­try. Syria is a case in point along Saudi Ara­bia wants to de­throne the Bashar al-As­sad regime, Iran sup­ports the regime. Spec­u­la­tions also sur­round about Pak­istan’s sup­ply of arms to Gulf king­doms at this crit­i­cal hour. Some sug­gest that Pak­istan should act as a bal­ancer be­tween Saudi Ara­bia and Iran. Some bor­der in­ci­dents also took place be­tween Pak­istan and Iran re­cently. Swift joint meet­ings held to de­crease ten­sions. Chief Min­is­ter of Balochis­tan, Dr Ab­dul Ma­lik Baloch, Gover­nor of Balochis­tan, Mah­mood Khan Achakzai, Ad­vi­sor on For­eign Af­fairs & Na­tional Se­cu­rity, Sar­taj Aziz, Spe­cial As­sis­tant on For­eign Af­fairs, Tariq Fatemi, Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Ishaq Dar, and Min­is­ter for Petroleum & Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi, ac­com­pa­nied the Prime Min­is­ter Sharif. En­hanc­ing bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion, both sides signed as many as eight MoUs namely; 1. Agree­ment on Trans­fer of Of­fend­ers (Trans­fer of Sen­tenced Per­sons). 2. MoU on Anti-Money Laun­der­ing. 3. MoU on Sta­tis­ti­cal Co­op­er­a­tion. 4. Re­newal of the Cul­tural Ex­change Pro­gram. 5. MoU on Sports Co­op­er­a­tion. 6. MoU on Co­op­er­a­tion in Pre­vent­ing and MoU on Es­tab­lish­ment of Joint Bor­der and IIEC. bil­lion IP is the most cru­cial and one has to see how the mat­ter would would avoid penalty un­der the agree­ment as re­peat­edly pointed out by the Ira­nian side. Dur­ing the visit, both sides agreed to con­tinue dis­cus­sion on the IP gas pipe­line and to some ex­tent, at least, diplo­mat­i­cally eased anx­i­ety span­ning over the past many months. It also means that the project is not scraped yet and both sides would try to ad­dress con­cerns and sought out is­sues sur­round­ing the project. day if it failed to build the pipe­line by De­cem­ber 2014. The dead­line has been ex­tended. New time­frame would be agreed upon. Iran has al­ready built

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