Inclusive Pak-Iran diplomacy to enhance security, trade & cultural collaboration

Zubair Qureshi

Experts on foreign policy, trade and investment in an online seminar have held that Pakistan-Iran diplomatic relations are based on the commonalities of language, literature, culture and religion that can enhance bilateral strategic and trade collaboration for a win-win situation.

The webinar titled “Iran-Pakistan diplomatic relations: opportunities for cooperation and convergence” was jointly hosted by Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan), DTN and Tehran International Studies and Research Institute (TISRI) and turned out to be a forum of candid debate as the participants expressed their views and gave suggestions as how the two countries could tap the huge potential lying in various sectors.

The post withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan scenario also came under discussion and it was a unanimous point of consensus that the two countries should have a mutually agreed strategy to handle the emerging situation of security and peace in the region.

They said the enhanced cultural collaboration and heritage tourism could bring the people from both sides closer to each other beyond the ethnic and religious divide.

Youth engagement in a variety of sectors is imperative and the CPEC could be another economic and trade bond for closer ties between Iran and Pakistan.

A youth expedition from Chabahar to Gwadar would lead to much better understanding between the people of both sides, and will open many vistas of collaboration.

The panel of experts included Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, former ISI chief and geopolitical analyst Muhammad Asad Durrani, research analyst and former ambassador to Iran Asif Durrani, Iran’s former ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Mashaallah Shakeri, Iran’s Cultural Counsellor Ehsan Khazaei, Director South Asian Studies at TISRI Dr. Somaye Morovati, and Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed who also moderated the discussion.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said three factors would promote ties between Iran-Pakistan in the near future.

First, CPEC and regional connectivity are key to the economic future of both Pakistan and Iran, with the Iran-China deal a plus for Pakistan, securing Pakistan’s Western flanks and good for development of Gwadar Port.

Secondly, with instability likely in Afghanistan post-US withdrawal, counter-terrorism border cooperation and border management will bring the two countries closer as both seek lasting peace, stability and security in Afghanistan as well as on their border.

Third, with pressures from the Biden Administration on both Iran and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan can play the role of a bridge between Tehran and Riyadh, especially on issues like Palestine and Kashmir.

Lt General (R) Asad Durrani said Pak-Iran relations have generally been good – ranging from close to correct – at their peak before the Revolution.

During the Khomeini era, the US, then our close ally in Afghanistan vacated, wanted our relations downgraded because of the siege of its Embassy in Tehran, but we refused and have ever since represented Iranian interests in Washington.

Ambassador (R) Mashaallah Shakeri said Pakistan and Iran enjoy centuries-long relations in cultural, social, politics and economic and trade spheres.

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