- Visiting Iranian foreign minister presents ‘workable’ solution
ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Monday presented a workable solution with regard to the completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project with a proposal that the project can be financed by China and Russia if Islamabad is facing resistance because of the US sanctions on Tehran.
The proposal was presented by the visiting Iranian foreign minister during delegation-level talks with caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani upon his day-long visit in the wake of the recent tension between the two countries, sources privy to the development told Business Recorder on condition of anonymity.
The sources further maintained the Iranian foreign minister also dispelled the impression created by certain media outlets, claiming that Iran might be moving towards any possible penalty on Pakistan in case the project is not completed till Feb-March 2024 as per the initial agreement, which has now been reportedly extended till September 2024.
“There have been lots of speculation and misreporting about any possible move by Iran on Pakistan for not completing the IP gas pipeline, this is not true,” the sources quoted the Iranian foreign minister to have told his Pakistani counterpart Jilani during the talks.
During the meeting which was also attended by senior officials from both sides, detailed discussions were held on the issue of terrorism, including on the measures to avert any future incident such as the January 16 strikes by Iran and Pakistan’s retaliatory strikes on January 18 that led to escalation of tension between the two countries.
“The two foreign ministers agreed to immediately appoint liaison officers in Turbat and Zahidan to further strengthen ongoing security and intelligence cooperation,” read a statement of the Foreign Office released after the talks.
It added that the two sides also decided to establish a Joint Coordination Mechanism at the level of foreign ministers to oversee and steer progress on a common agenda for the prosperity and development of the two peoples.
Underscoring the brotherly relations between Pakistan and Iran, caretaker Foreign Minister Jilani reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to deepen and broaden the existing wide-ranging cooperation with Iran.
The foreign minister underlined the imperative for collective and collaborative approaches to confront terrorism that posed a common challenge to both Pakistan and Iran. He stressed that robust institutional mechanisms between the two countries on security cooperation should be fully leveraged.
Noting that security and development are intrinsically interlinked, the two foreign ministers agreed to expand initiatives for economic and development cooperation including through early operationalisation of the joint border markets to uplift the socio-economic status of the people of both countries, especially those residing in the border regions.
“Regular high-level engagements provide a leadership-driven impetus to the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran. In this backdrop, the foreign minister renewed an invitation to the President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi to undertake a visit to Pakistan,” it added.
Speaking at a joint news conference along with caretaker Foreign Minister Jilani after the meeting, Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian said that the two countries would not allow the terrorists, who he said are being supported by “third countries”, to sabotage the brotherly and fraternal relations between the two countries.
“There is no doubt that the terrorists located in the common border regions and areas of Iran and Pakistan are led and supported by “third countries” and they never favour any good action in line with the benefits of the Iranian and Pakistani governments and nations,” Foreign Minister Abdollahian said.
He said that both countries “never had territorial differences”, adding: “Our historical bilateral relations and connections testify that we are a single nation located in two different geographical positions.”
He said that both Iran and Pakistan respected each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.“We are here, so in a loud voice we will tell all terrorists that Iran and Pakistan will not provide them with any opportunity to endanger our common security,” the Iranian foreign minister said emphatically.
He said that the two sides have agreed to take further actions as soon as possible when it comes to border security and necessity of fighting against terrorism, as well as expansion of trade, commercial and economic cooperation.
He said that his country considers Pakistan’s security as the security of Iran and the whole region. “Both the countries strongly respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each other…and through joint cooperation, the two countries will not allow the terrorists to endanger our common security,” he said, adding that the two sides also that our borders will be translated into borders of trade, development and progress.
The Iranian foreign minister further stated that the two sides have also agreed to expand pilgrimage tourism and finalise projects on energy cooperation.
He also appreciated Pakistan’s stance in support of the Palestinian people, adding that Iran will continue to support the Palestinians and the resistant forces.
In his remarks, Jilani said that the threat of terrorism poses a common challenge to both countries. “We have agreed to adopt collective and collaborative approaches to confront this menace by fully leveraging the robust institutional mechanism that already exists between the two countries,” he said, adding that respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity remains the fundamental principle of this cooperation.
Jilani said that the high-level consultative mechanism at the level of the foreign ministers will meet alternatively in both Iran and Pakistan on a regular basis to oversee the progress that is being made in various areas of cooperation.
“There was an agreement to cooperate to fight terrorism in our respective areas. We need to address and allay each other’s concerns with regard to terrorism and in this connection, the two sides have agreed to station the liaison officers in Turbat and Zahedan at the earliest date,” he further shared details of the discussions.
He said that both sides have agreed to prioritise economic uplift and development of our border areas, adding that it has been agreed to fast-track operationalisation of five remaining border markets.
“The two sides recognized that close relationship between our two countries is not only imperative for shared prosperity and development of our peoples but also an important source of stability for the region,” he added.
He said that the Pakistan-Iran bilateral relationship is underpinned by strong bonds of amity and brotherhood.
Jilani said that the Iranian foreign minister’s visit at “such a short notice testifies to the deep commitment on both sides to solidify ties” with each other. “Close ties between Pakistan and Iran are not only beneficial for development but an important source of stability for the people,” he said, adding that the two sides subsequently, resolved to expand cooperation, especially in the security and political domain.
To a question, Jilani said that for the last 75 years, the two countries have developed robust ties and improved the level of trust through various communication channels, including at the level of political leadership, army chiefs, sector commanders, etc, to discuss each other’s concerns on every issue.
The Iranian foreign minister’s visit comes in the backdrop of now de-escalated tension between the two countries following Tehran launched strikes in Panjgur, Balochistan, targeting what it described as “headquarters” of terror outfit, Jaish al-Adl, on January16.
This prompted Pakistan to downgrade the ties and also launched retaliatory strikes on January 18 against the “hideouts” used by terrorist organisations namely Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF)“ in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2024