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PR Short Notes


Photo Source: ISPR

Pakistan Reader# 629, 24 July 2023

Iran and Pakistan: Dialogue over three sticky points



Reviving engagement between the two countries

Femy Francis

On 15 July, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir reached Iran for a two-day visit. He met President Ebrahim Raisi, top military commanders and leaders. The ISPR statement after the visit stated that: “Military commanders on both sides agreed that Terrorism was a common threat to the region in general and both countries in particular. They vowed to eradicate menace of terrorism in the border areas through intelligence sharing and effective actions against the terrorists' networks, and explore avenues for enhancing cooperation in security domain.”

What was the visit about?
The visit aimed at renewing and strengthening ties, where they focused on counter terrorism measures and securing their common border. Islamic Revolution Guard Corp (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami stated: “We consider Pakistan's security as our security and by expanding interactions, cooperation and joint actions, we will end the existence of terrorist groups and establish stable security in the shared border areas.” Additionally, President Raisi stressed on the need to facilitate safe economic zone and further their cooperation in the line of energy.
There are three major sticking points between Pakistan and Iran, which the political and military leaders are trying to address.

1. Mutual accusation over nurturing secessionist movements
Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan shares its border with Balochistan province of Pakistan where insurgency and separatist movement has sustained over many decades. Pakistan has accused Iran of providing a safe haven for the Baloch insurgents and even attacking the security forces from Iranian soil. Similarly, Iran had linked Jaish-ul-Adl, a terrorist organization found responsible for the terrorist attack against the security forces during the period of anti-state protest in the aftermath of Mahsa Amini’s killing. Iran had accused Pakistan for facilitating and not seriously cracking down against the terrorist outfit.

2. Securing the border, and developing it
Iran and Pakistan have been focusing on forging bilateral economic relationship. On 18 May, Pakistani Prime Minster Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi inaugurated the border market “Mand-Pashin” and instituted electricity transmission line aiming to provide electricity to remote regions of Pakistan. Stability in the region would provide a better ecosystem to flourish the economies.

3. Increasing role of China
Both Iran and Pakistan are part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative. On 7 June, China also partook in a trilateral dialogue between China- Iran and Pakistan discussing the counter-terrorism measures. Additionally, the restoration of diplomatic relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran was brokered by China, which stands highly beneficial for Pakistan to supplement its trade and energy needs. The revival of ties creates a more peaceful region to the benefit of each. China’s role as the big brother is potent as it would foster connectivity and new supply chain ecosystem, with its allies being on better terms.

The visit by General Asim Munir aims at reviving engagement between the two countries in light of their mutual benefit. While one visit does not resolve insurgency across both sides of the border, the recent visits refer to a process. While countering the mutual threat of terrorism the endgame is to create a stable region for the benefit of economic and political development.

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