Pakistan, Iran revive historic friendship

ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan and Iran have revived their historic friendship as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi held successful meetings with the Pakistani civil and military leadership. The recent meetings marked a pivotal moment in Pakistan-Iran relations with both the nations aiming to bolster not only economic but also security cooperation. The backdrop of strained ties, stemming from clashes in January, underscored the urgency of their discussions. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Pakistan, spanning three days, was met with extensive security measures, reflecting the significance of the occasion.

Both nations grapple with a surge in violence, which poses a threat to security on both sides of border. During their deliberations, President Raisi and PM Shehbaz Sharif delved into a spectrum of bilateral issues, with a shared commitment to combat terrorism and affirming their solidarity in condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza. Their discussions also ventured into the realm of economic collaboration, as they set forth ambitious goals to elevate bilateral trade to $10 billion annually within next five years. This commitment, amidst recent military exchanges, serves as a testament to their mutual desire to normalize relations and foster greater economic integration.

However, the visit is not devoid of geopolitical complexities. The Middle East’s volatile landscape, marked by tensions between Iran and Israel, loomed large over their discussions, emphasizing the imperative of regional stability. Sharif’s commendation of Iran’s stance on Gaza underscores their shared values and aspirations for peace. Despite historical alignments, Pakistan’s traditional ties with Saudi Arabia and the United States, and Iran’s regional ambitions, both nations are keen to navigate these complexities and forge a path towards greater cooperation.

The stalled gas supply deal, dating back to 2010, remains a focal point of discussion, reflecting broader geopolitical dynamics and the challenge of balancing economic interests with geopolitical realities. As discussions extend beyond trade to encompass energy, connectivity, and regional security, both sides acknowledge the multifaceted nature of their relationship and the need for comprehensive engagement. The visit also underscores the enduring cultural and religious ties between Iran and Pakistan, evident in the tens of thousands of Shia pilgrims who visit Iran annually. Despite these deep-rooted connections, challenges persist in translating cultural affinity into substantive trade ties and people-to-people exchanges.

Amid escalating tensions, Pakistan’s call for de-escalation and international intervention underscores the delicate balance of power in the region and the imperative of averting further conflict. Pakistan’s steadfast stance of non-recognition towards Israel highlights the complexity of regional dynamics and the importance of diplomatic solutions in resolving longstanding conflicts. As a policy, Pakistan aims to strengthen ties with the neighbouring countries to promote trade and business. Iranian President’s visit has paved the way to expand the bilateral cooperation.

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