Home Latest News Pakistan, Iran Agree to ‘Collaborative’ Approach against Terrorism

Pakistan, Iran Agree to ‘Collaborative’ Approach against Terrorism

In 28-point joint statement, neighboring nations agree to expand trade ties, as well as finalizing a pending Free Trade Agreement

by Staff Report

Photo courtesy Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Islamabad and Tehran, in a 28-point joint statement issued after the end of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s three-day visit to Pakistan on Wednesday, agreed to adopt a collaborative approach to effectively combat and counter the shared threat of terrorism.

“Both sides recognized that terrorism posed a common threat to regional peace and stability and presented a major impediment to the development of the region,” it said, noting the collaborative approach would leverage existing bilateral institutional mechanisms to effectively combat and counter terrorism, while upholding the principles of the U.N. Charter, particularly the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states.

“Both sides also acknowledged the key role of enhanced economic and commercial opportunities in improving the security environment in the border areas,” it added.

Covering the breadth of discussions during Raisi’s visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, it noted that the two dignitaries had reviewed the entire spectrum of Pak-Iran ties during their talks and exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual concern. Both men, on Monday, witnessed the inking of eight agreements and Memorandums of Understanding.

“Both sides agreed to enhance mutual interaction through regular exchange of high-level visits to strengthen fraternal relations,” it said, noting the  historical, cultural, religious and civilizational ties between them. Ties could be boosted, read the joint statement, through promotion of academic, cultural and tourism activities, and by enhancing tourism to historic religious sites in both countries.

“Acknowledging that the Pakistan-Iran common border should be the ‘border of peace and friendship,’ both sides reiterated the importance of forging regular cooperation and exchange of views between political, military and security officials of the two countries to combat threats such as terrorism, narcotics smuggling, human trafficking, hostage-taking, money-laundering and abduction,” it stressed.

On trade and economic cooperation, the statement said both sides agreed to expand existing ties, affirming their commitment to transform their common border to a ‘border of prosperity’ through joint development-oriented economic projects, including joint border markets, economic free zones, and new border openings. “They also reiterated the importance of cooperation in the energy domain, including trade in electricity, power transmission lines and IP Gas Pipeline Project,” it said, of the project that the U.S. has previously warned could attract sanctions against Pakistan.

“The two leaders agreed to boost their bilateral trade to $10 billion over the next five years,” it said, noting a joint desire for a long-term durable economic partnership and collaborative regional economic and connectivity model, particularly for socioeconomic development in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan provinces.

Both sides similarly agreed to expeditiously finalize the Free Trade Agreement and hold meetings in this regard in the near future. “They also agreed to facilitate regular exchange of economic and technical experts, as well as delegations from Chambers of Commerce from both countries to intensify economic cooperation,” it said, adding opening of two border sustenance markets was also agreed.

Both sides, according to the statement, also agreed on operationalizing barter trade mechanisms to facilitate economic and commercial activity. Stressing on the importance of harnessing their respective geographic locations to promote connectivity, they noted with satisfaction progress made in the regular shipment of goods under the TIR Convention. “It was agreed that full operationalization of the TIR Convention would also enhance regional integration and connectivity across the wider ECO region,” it said, noting both countries were signatories to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). “The two countries also agreed to expand mutually beneficial and enduring linkages between the sister ports of Gwadar and Chahbahar,” it said.

Referring to regional and global developments, both sides stressed the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and diplomacy to find mutually acceptable solutions to common challenges. “Both sides highlighted the need to resolve the issue of Kashmir through dialogue and peaceful means based on the will of the people of that region, and in accordance with international law,” it said, adding they had also expressed “strong and unequivocal condemnation” of the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. “They called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, unimpeded humanitarian access to the besieged people of Gaza, return of the displaced Palestinians, as well as ensuring accountability of the crimes being committed by the Israeli regime,” it said, expressing support for a comprehensive and durable solution as per aspirations of Palestinians.

Describing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an important forum for regional security and development, they called for the early resumption of the activities of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group to coordinate efforts to maintain stability and develop economic ties in the region. Similarly, both sides acknowledged the immense potential for economic development under the ECO banner, stressing cooperation between SCO and ECO could help accelerate development of the entire region.

Pakistan and Iran also reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful, united, sovereign and independent Afghanistan, free from the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking. The statement said the existence of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan posed a serious threat to regional and global security, with both sides agreeing to enhance cooperation to develop a united front against terrorism. “While respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, the two sides recognized that increasing participation of all strata of Afghans in basic decision-making will lead to the strengthening of peace and stability in this country,” it added.

Both sides agreed to release each other’s’ prisoners and take measures for their extradition, and also strongly condemned the attack on the Consular Section of the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, stressing it was a violation of international law and the U.N. Charter, and was illegal under the Vienna Convention. They reiterated calls for the U.N. Security Council to prevent Israel from continuing its illegal attacks on its neighbors and foreign diplomatic facilities.

Both sides also condemned rising incidents of Islamophobia and called for an end to any advocacy of religious hatred under freedom of expression that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. They similarly called for early appointment of a U.N. Special Envoy to combat Islamophobia.

Emphasizing international respect for diversity of social, legal and governance systems, they expressed their firm opposition to interference in the internal affairs of countries through any means. “Both sides affirmed that each nation has its own unique history, culture and national characteristics, and diverse social systems and levels of social and economic development; and that human rights must be protected consistent with obligations under international human rights law,” it added.

The statement noted the Iranian president had also met President Asif Ali Zardari, Senate Chairman Yusuf Raza Gilani and National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, with the meetings seeking bolstering of ties between the neighboring countries. It noted that Raisi had urged businessmen in Karachi to develop closer contacts with their Iranian counterparts under the Framework of the Joint Business Council as well as through trade delegations and exhibitions. The visiting dignitary also extended invitations for the president and prime minister to pay official visits to Iran.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment