Numerous commonalities between Iran and Pakistan in terms of common concerns and interests increases the importance of forging a closer, stronger and friendlier relationship between the two countries, said the Iranian ambassador to Islamabad.
Relationships between neighboring states have always had a special status in the system of international relations as well as global practice and mores, Mehdi Honardoost told Iran Daily on the sidelines of a three-day visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Pakistan.
Commenting on Zarif’s trip to Islamabad, he said ministerial visits and exchanges of this sort twice a year are unavoidable in relations between two countries such as Iran and Pakistan as two major nations of the Muslim world with a 70-year history of close and cordial relations.
Honardoost added that Iran and Pakistan are two prominent and influential members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, have large populations as well as huge potentials and have always maintained an atmosphere of good neighborliness in their friendly relations.
Regular and frequent high-level exchanges, particularly at the ministerial levels, is a necessity for Iran and Pakistan given the importance of their relations in all dimensions, particularly, in view of their efforts to make optimum use of their potential and actual trade opportunities, he said.
“That is why 30 Iranian traders and businessmen are accompanying the Iranian foreign minister during his visit to Pakistan.”
Refraining from allowing a third agent, which can be different from time to time, to impact mutual relations is among the principles of a relationship and agreements reached between two countries, Honardoost said.
Saudi Arabia does its best to create obstacles to Iran’s presence and activities in diverse fields, given the sort of the ongoing tensions between the two countries, he stressed, adding relations between Tehran and Islamabad have always been based on good neighborliness without any instance of misunderstanding or a problem.
Based on the realities, it can be assured that Pakistani officials are well aware of the importance Iranian officials and authorities attach to regional relations and the cooperation between the regional countries and their sensitivity and responsiveness about such issues.
He said Pakistan has good relations with Saudi Arabia for various reasons, among which are the significant number of the Pakistani workforce currently providing services in the Arab state who generate substantial annual revenue for the South Asian state, and numerous contracts signed between Islamabad and Riyadh during the past years which have facilitated the expansion of cooperation between the two nations.
In addition, the ambassador added, the Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes any improvement in relations between major regional countries, as it knows that such close and strong ties would prevent certain world powers from outside the region from interfering in the internal affairs of the regional nations.
Honardoost noted that the presence of a number of world powers in any regional country has always had disastrous consequences for the people of that country and the entire region.
Active terrorist groups in the region are among the common concerns articulated both by Iran and Pakistan, he said.
“At times, these terror groups create problems for us. However, Pakistan does not generally and logically benefit from such desperate moves by these terror groups against Iran,” as these antigovernment terrorists’ presence in the South Asian state and near the common border and their operations are among the main concerns of the Pakistani government.
Thus, among the priorities of Iran and Pakistan are fighting terrorism and terror groups, sponsored by the reactionary states of the region, he stressed.
Iran and Pakistan are both located along the route of drug trafficking in the region which poses a serious risk to both countries, Honardoost added.
He said as a consequence of the prolonged presence of the US in Afghanistan, Iran’s problems with its eastern neighbor have multiplied, which indicates the contradiction in the behavior displayed by the Americans who claim to have come to Afghanistan to establish peace.
Clearly, the prolonged US presence in the region has had adverse consequences for Iran and, although minimal, a negative impact on the country’s security, the ambassador added.
Human trafficking is among the other concerns jointly expressed by Iran and Pakistan, he said.
Having a homogenous and harmonious attitude towards global phenomena is another indication of an atmosphere of good neighborliness in Iran-Pakistan relations, Honardoost stressed.
He said one of the prominent dimensions of Iran’s cooperation with Pakistan in international meetings and societies pertains, particularly, to defining the principles and frameworks towards which some of the world powers adopt double-standard policies, such as the human rights issue.
Iran has very effective cooperation with Pakistan on the issue of human rights, the ambassador said, adding both countries adopt a similar attitude towards this topic.
He noted that we held serious talks with Pakistani officials on the issue of tightening up security in the areas near the common border following the bitter incident that took place in a cross-border terrorist attack on the frontier with Pakistan in April 2017, in which nine Iranian soldiers were martyred and one, named Saeed Barati, was abducted by terrorists while patrolling and guarding a drug transit route.
Barati is still being held captive by the terrorists, he added.
The length of Iran’s common land border with Pakistan is more than 1,000 kilometers, Honardoost said. He added that compared to the Islamic Republic that has always paid enough attention to ensuring security in border areas, Pakistan used to be less concerned about the protection of the common border prior to this tragic event.
He noted, however, that after the tragedy that unfolded in April 2017, Iran seriously demanded Pakistan to pay more attention to the security of the common border.
The ambassador said that the Pakistani side had fulfilled its commitment in this regard. “Currently, the concentration of Pakistani security and military forces has increased in border areas.”
Although this increased concentration in border areas fails to entirely eliminate the perpetration of terrorist acts in this region, it has definitely had an impact on the continuity and spread of the illegal acts by armed terrorists.
Shifting to Islamabad’s cooperation with Beijing in the implementation of China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said Iran had always viewed regional cooperation as a deterrent factor minimizing the influence, presence and interference of certain world powers in the region.