Mr Zardaris visit to Tehran on Saturday was very much called for to assure the Iranian leadership that this time around Pakistan was serious about strengthening close and mutually fruitful relations, spanning all aspects of life, with a Muslim neighbouring country like Iran with which it has a long history of cultural, social and economic ties. It hardly needs recalling that for the Pakistan government having virtually surrendered its independence of action to the US since becoming its ally in the war on terror, the US factor has been a formidable hurdle to the development of relations with Iran, especially those relations that could strengthen the Iranian economy. That Iran, our next door neighbour, had plenty of cheap natural gas to spare that could help bridge our supply-demand gap of energy, which was not only ruining our economy, but also seriously upsetting every facet of life, was not important to Washingtons policymakers. Whether or not Islamabad ever acknowledged that they had been exercising veto over the construction of the pipeline to bring this energy resource from the South Pars gas field, there has been little doubt in the public mind. Now as that constraint seems to be getting out of the way, it is necessary to open up all doors of cooperation with Iran. It was because of this that Mr Zardari took his second trip to Tehran in the course of a month. However, from the brief remark attributed to President Ahmadinejad in the press report it appears that Iran still had some doubts whether Islamabad could really keep up with the proposals it was making. Mr Ahmadinejad is only mentioned as having said something in the sentence the two leaders expressed their resolve to upgrade and further intensify their existing bilateral ties, particularly in the energy, trade and economic fields for mutual benefit and when Mr Zardari called on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he termed the US was Pakistans real enemy. It is imperative, therefore, to step up bilateral contacts at official as well as other levels to reiterate the assurance that we are, indeed, genuinely interested in turning a new page in our relations. As a proof, we should send to Tehran concrete proposal about the currency swap idea. If implemented, it would make for the lessening of our dependence on the US and the IMF, which has, undoubtedly at the instance of the US, withheld our next tranche. Besides, we should immediately start building the pipeline on our side and work to remove the Iranian grievance about terrorists taking shelter on the Pakistani soil. We should discuss with Iran definite suggestions about how the two countries can join hands with Afghanistan to bring it back and the region to a normal. There should be no going back to the old relations with the US. We must watch our national interests and work with genuine friends who could be expected to cooperate with us for mutual benefit.