Strategic Dialogue: Tehran to Islamabad

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The Islamic Republic of Iran, in pursuance of its neighborhood policy, is attempting to improve relations with Pakistan in the aftermath of January 2024 showdown by moving on issues like economy, trade & commerce, energy, and border security concerns. This visit highlights Iran’s commitment to enhancing cooperation and fostering a more robust partnership with Pakistan, that also reflects the importance of bilateral ties between two neighbourly nations.

Islamabad and Tehran have been striving to enhance bilateral trade, that currently stands at more than $2 billion.

The Pakistan-Iran relationship holds significant strategic importance for both countries, given their shared borders with India and Afghanistan. A stable and friendly relationship between Pakistan and Iran remains essential for regional stability and security. Islamabad and Tehran have been striving to enhance bilateral trade, that currently stands at more than $2 billion. However, there exists a substantial volume of informal trade between the two countries, include the movement of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and crude oil. Additionally, Iran plays a crucial role in supplying electricity to Pakistan’s Balochistan province and other border areas signaling the importance of economic partnership.

President Ebrahim Raisi’s visits to Pakistan included crucial meetings with several key figures, highlighting the significance of his trip. One of the key meetings was with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, where the two leaders discussed a range of bilateral issues and vowed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. The two leaders also reiterated their condemnations of Israel’s actions in Gaza, showcasing a united front on the issue of Palestine.

Another important meeting was with Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Asim Munir. During this meeting, the focus remained on matters of mutual interest, particularly regional peace, stability, and border security. The COAS of Pakistan described the Pakistan-Iran border as “the border of peace and friendship,” emphasizing the need for improved coordination and cooperation to prevent terrorists from jeopardizing longstanding brotherly relations.

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President Raisi also met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar to discuss regional and global developments. The meeting affirmed both countries’ commitment to peace and constructive dialogue for resolving regional challenges. Such meetings demonstrated Iran’s efforts to strengthen ties with Pakistan across all fronts, including security, trade, diplomacy, and enhanced regional cooperation.

Additionally, President Raisi’s meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari was significant. Zardari had helped launching the stalled gas pipeline project in 2013, during his first presidential tenure, the project was aimed at supplying Iranian natural gas to energy-hungry Pakistan. This meeting highlighted the importance of the project for both countries and signaled a willingness to overcome obstacles to its completion. Overall, those meetings were crucial in reinforcing the commitment of both nations to enhancing bilateral cooperation and addressing regional challenges together.

The relationship between Iran and Pakistan has faced numerous challenges in the past, with both countries accusing each other of failing to control armed groups operating along their borders.

The relationship between Iran and Pakistan has faced numerous challenges in the past, with both countries accusing each other of failing to control armed groups operating along their borders. This visit is seen as an opportunity to mend strained relations and rebuild confidence. It comes at an important juncture when Iran is engaged in a dangerous conflict with Israel and is looking for support from region and beyond. Despite challenges, both countries have shown a willingness to de-escalate tensions and work together for combating terrorism, particularly in the border region. President Raisi’s visit is seen as a positive step towards rebuilding confidence and strengthening the relationship between Iran and Pakistan, emphasizing the importance of maintaining cordial ties between the two nations.

The two countries share close cultural and religious ties, with thousands of Shia minority people from Pakistan visiting Iran annually on religious pilgrimage. Despite such deep cultural bonds, there still exists some room for further enhancing people-to-people exchanges and deepening trade ties between the two nations.

The visit signifies a significant step towards strengthening the bond between Iran and Pakistan and enhancing cooperation in various fields. The signing of cooperation agreements and discussions on key issues such as trade, security, and energy reflect the commitment of both countries to building a stronger partnership. As Iran and Pakistan work towards addressing the common challenges and promoting regional stability, the cordial ties between the neighbours remain crucial for the prosperity and security.

The opinions shared in this article reflect the author’s personal views and do not necessarily align with the institution’s official stance.

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Sehr Rushmeen, an Islamabad based freelance researcher, did her MPhil from National Defence University (NDU) in Strategic Studies, and her BSc from University of London (UOL) in International Relations. Her area of research interest is Strategic Nuclear Studies, Artificial Intelligence in Warfare, South China Sea and South Asian Politics. She tweets as @rushmeentweets and can be reached on sehrrushmeenwrites@gmail.com.

Sehr Rushmeen

Sehr Rushmeen, an Islamabad based freelance researcher, did her MPhil from National Defence University (NDU) in Strategic Studies, and her BSc from University of London (UOL) in International Relations. Her area of research interest is Strategic Nuclear Studies, Artificial Intelligence in Warfare, South China Sea and South Asian Politics. She tweets as @rushmeentweets and can be reached on sehrrushmeenwrites@gmail.com.