The international relations between Iran and Pakistan have been characterized by a mix of cooperation, rivalry, and occasional tensions.

Both the countries share a long history of cultural, economic, and strategic ties.

Although, Border tensions between both countries escalated in January when Iran launched air strikes across the border in Pakistan, killing two children. The Iranian official media reported that the attack targeted two Jaish al-Adl sites. Pakistan replied by sending a missile into Iranian territory and withdrew its ambassador from Tehran.

Despite occasional challenges, both countries have endeavored to maintain cordial relations over the years. The recent visit by the Iranian President underscores the importance of nurturing these ties and tapping into the vast potential for mutual benefit.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Pakistan on 22nd April for a three-day visit. Raisi, being the first Iranian president to visit Pakistan in eight years aimed to bolster bilateral relations and foster regional cooperation. The visit, laden with diplomatic significance, aimed to fortify ties between the neighboring nations and explore avenues for enhanced collaboration in various spheres.

Let’s have a look on Key Agendas of the visit:

The Iranian President had high-level talks with Pakistani counterparts, concentrating on a variety of vital subjects mainly conversations about trade and economic cooperation, energy coordination, regional security dynamics, and measures to foster peace and stability in neighboring Afghanistan.

Increasing Economic Cooperation

One of the sessions in the visit focused on increasing economic cooperation between Iran and Pakistan. Both countries recognize the immense potential for trade and investment and have expressed their commitment to overcoming existing hurdles to facilitate bilateral trade. Initiatives to strengthen connectivity through improved transportation links and trade facilitation measures were also explored.

It must be remembered that both countries have previously worked on projects such as the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline (also known as the “Peace Pipeline”), although progress has been slow due to various challenges, including international sanctions on Iran.

Enhanced Security Cooperation

Both countries have cooperated on security issues, particularly in border management and counter-terrorism efforts.

Raisi also met President Asif Ali Zardari, and the two vowed to strengthen existing connections. The Iranian President, in his meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir discussed regional stability and border security as well.

Separately, the neighbors inked eight agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to collaborate in a variety of industries.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz and Raisi also inaugurated the freshly completed extension of Islamabad’s 11th Avenue, which has been renamed as Iran Avenue.

Energy Collaboration:

Energy cooperation featured prominently in the talks between the two leaders. Iran, with its abundant energy resources, has the potential to become a significant supplier of energy to Pakistan. Discussions on enhancing cooperation in areas such as oil and gas exploration, electricity generation, and renewable energy projects were held, aiming to address Pakistan’s energy needs and foster energy security in the region. Pakistan is also relying on a joint gas project with Iran to address a long-standing power crisis that has hampered economic growth.

A $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, meant to feed Pakistani power facilities, was launched in March 2013. However, the project was immediately stalled as a result of international sanctions imposed on Iran.

Security Dynamics:

Given the geopolitical complexities of the region, security dynamics remained a crucial aspect of the discussions. Both Iran and Pakistan reiterated their commitment to combating terrorism and extremism, recognizing the importance of regional cooperation in addressing common security challenges. Efforts to enhance border security and intelligence sharing were also emphasized during the visit.

Regional Stability:

The visit also provided an opportunity for both nations to deliberate on regional issues, particularly the situation in Afghanistan. With the impending withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan share concerns about the potential security vacuum and its implications for regional stability.

Both nations reaffirmed their support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, emphasizing the need for inclusive dialogue to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Cultural Exchanges:

Beyond the realm of politics and economics, the visit highlighted the importance of cultural exchanges in strengthening people-to-people ties between Iran and Pakistan. Both nations expressed their commitment to promoting cultural cooperation, facilitating tourism, and enhancing educational exchanges to foster greater understanding and goodwill between their peoples.

Overall, the visit by the Iranian President to Pakistan underscores the significance of diplomatic engagement in fostering mutual understanding and cooperation between both nations.

The questions are:

  • Will this visit improve relations in the long run?
  • Can we expect a new road to Pak-Iran Bilateral trade?
  • Will security cooperation improve contributing to peace and stability in the wider region?

As Iran and Pakistan navigate the complexities of the regional landscape, their commitment to strengthening bilateral ties and addressing common challenges will be pivotal in shaping the future trajectory of their relationship.

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