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ISLAMABAD: Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Sayed Mohammad Ali Hosseini on Wednesday underscored the need for further enhancing trade between Pakistan and Iran and expressed optimism that the volume of bilateral trade will top $2 billion this year.

The ambassador was speaking at an event to celebrate the “76 Years of Pakistan-Iran Diplomatic Relations” at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI), organised by the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) in collaboration with the Embassy of Iran.

Other speakers included Director General ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, Director CAMEA Amina Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to Iran Rahim Hayat Qureshi, Cultural Counselor of the Embassy of Iran in Pakistan Ehsan Khazaei, Pakistan’s Former Ambassador to Iran Riffat Masood, and Chairman Board of Governors ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood(retired).

Ambassador Hosseini, while talking about Iran-Pakistan relations, highlighted that bilateral relations have been growing in various fields.

He underscored that solidarity between the two fraternal neighbouring countries was based on various commonalities and linkages which paved the way for a stronger relationship. He added that the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries would reach more than two billion dollars this year. Shedding light on the expansion of cooperation between the two countries, he also identified the energy sector, saying that his country stands ready to expand cooperation in the energy sector.

Ambassador Rahim Hayat Qureshi, while speaking, underscored that Pakistan-Iran relations had remained strong throughout history.

He said Pakistan and Iran enjoyed linguistic bonds and the Persian language had a strong influence in South Asia. While talking about the economic ties, he highlighted that MoUs for the establishment of six border markets had been signed. He added that Pakistan and Iran had also opened additional border crossing points, which would help enhance people-to-people contacts and facilitate the border movement.

In his remarks, Sohail Mahmood stated that while Pakistan-Iran diplomatic relations were 76 years old, the ties between the two countries went back centuries, based on immutable bonds of common faith, history and linguistic affinities.

He said the cultural dimension was the most manifest, as could be seen in a strong Persian imprint on Pakistan’s civilisational heritage. “Pakistan-Iran ties were reinforced by a shared commitment to deepen the relationship in its multiple aspects. The two sides’ mutual interests ranged from enhanced bilateral trade to energy cooperation to coordination on regional and international issues,” he said.

He said the people of Pakistan appreciated Iran’s principled support for the just cause of Kashmir. He said the two countries also shared a crucial stake in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan as that would help advance the agenda of regional economic integration and connectivity.

Amina Khan, while dilating on the subject, stated that Pakistan-Iran relations are “time-tested” and based on bonds of brotherhood, mutual respect, and support for each other in times of difficulty. She said the “Treaty of Friendship”, signed between the two countries in 1950, was a reflection of this relationship.

Cultural Counsellor Khazai, in his remarks, said Iran and Pakistan had close historical, cultural, religious, lingual and brotherly ties, adding that by virtue of strong cultural affiliations, the two countries could be called as “one homeland, one country”. He further said Iran and Pakistan both had a lot of potential to boost bilateral relations and cultural cooperation could play a major role in bringing the two nations even closer.

Riffat Masood, in her remarks, said the neighbourhood between the two countries was important and in that context, Pakistan and Iran must make efforts towards knowing each other better.

“We must focus on the present and also recognise that there are interdependencies between Iran and Pakistan,” she said, adding that trade with Iran would bring more dividends to Pakistan.

Khalid Mahmood was of the view that Iran has been a “time-tested” friend and the bonds of brotherhood continue to strengthen. “It was important to accelerate the pace of the initiatives aimed at expanding economic engagement,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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