Bilawal’s Iran visit: A success story | By Fahd Gauhar Malik


Bilawal’s Iran visit: A success story 

THE appointment as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister at the age of 33 is undoubtedly the first unique distinction of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Bilawal is fortunate enough to have become famous worldwide even before he became the FM due to being the scion of the Bhutto Family.

Soon after he took over as FM, apart from other countries like the US and China, he travelled to Iran on an important visit where he proved himself a seasoned diplomat

During his meeting with Iranian President, Sayyid Ebrahim Raisolsadati, commonly known as Ebrahim Raisi, Bilawal described himself not only the son of Pakistan but also the son of Iran (Nusrat Bhutto connection).

Nusrat Bhutto was born in 1929 in the Iranian province of Isfahan. Her father was a businessman from the Hariri family and her mother was Kurdish.

The Iranian family first moved to Mumbai and then to Karachi after the partition of India. Bilawal’s statement hit headlines in the Iranian media which is the beauty of diplomacy.

During Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s tenure as Prime Minister, Pak-Iran relations were at their peak. Iran has always supported Pakistan on international issues. Similarly, Pakistan has always been vocal in favour of Iran.

During the meeting with Iranian President, Bilawal Bhutto made it clear that the Pakistani government is looking forward to the successful conclusion of international talks on Iran’s nuclear program and that expanding bilateral ties, will create a better atmosphere.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Iran may have been of little importance to the Pakistani media but it received good coverage in the Iranian media as the Iranian government has always stood by Pakistan’s position on Kashmir, enjoy close, cooperative relationship based on people-to-people historical connections.

These fraternal ties are being further strengthened by successive high-level exchanges. The two countries are also celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.

He also referred to the deep ties between the two countries and said that these ties are rooted in centuries-old cordial relations.

Raisi said that the people of Iran and Pakistan are not only neighbors but also relatives. He further said that most of the foreign visitors to the shrine of Imam Reza (AS) are Pakistanis and this is one of the areas of closeness between the two countries.

The President also noted that we consider Pakistan’s security as our security, adding that some people do not like good relations between our two Muslim, neighboring, friendly and brotherly countries, but the development of relations will lead to economic prosperity and development.

There will be more protection for the nations of the region and Iran does not see any restrictions in developing relations with Pakistan.

Raisi added that Tehran is ready to promote comprehensive cooperation with Pakistan, as it can meet Pakistan’s needs in various fields, including oil, gas and electricity.

He described energy, transit and regional issues as important areas of cooperation and stressed that these issues should be resolved through dialogue and cooperation.

The Iranian president stressed that the two countries are committed to “close historical ties and strong fraternal ties.

Raisi said, “Iran attaches great importance to its economic and trade relations with Pakistan, which have great potential for further development”.

According to a report from an international news agency, the political and social circles of the country are also questioning on this occasion whether the Iran-Pakistan pipeline can be activated despite the US sanctions or not.

Many quarters of the country believe that Pakistan is facing a severe shortage of gas due to dwindling gas reserves in Sui and other areas of Pakistan while the government has to spend a huge amount of foreign exchange on oil imports.

In such a case, if the Pakistan-Iran pipeline project is revived, it will be of great benefit to the economy.

This project could be beneficial for Pakistan as Iran is one of the largest producers of gas and oil.

The advantage of laying the pipeline is that not only do you save on freight cost but it is also cheaper than LNG.

It is noteworthy that during the negotiations on a bilateral agreement in the 90s, Iran had asked Pakistan to install sugar and heavy mechanical plants and in return, they would build this pipeline for Pakistan.

This proposal was very appropriate; it would have also saved Pakistan’s foreign exchange. At that time Pakistan was not burdened with debt and the industry was improving, but this was not done at that time.

Now, after Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Iran, there is a possibility of the success of the project, it can certainly improve Pakistan’s deteriorating economic situation and bilateral relations between the two countries would once again go on the rise.

In the light of Bilawal’s recent visit to Tehran, it can be predicted without an iota of doubt that bilateral relations between the two nations, which are rooted in historical linkages and based on religious, linguistic, cultural linkages and spiritual affiliation, will become even stronger in the years to come.

—The writer is Chief Digital Strategist, Pakistan Observer, Islamabad.


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