Pakistan Iran FTA would be a big change: Iranian official

Pakistan Iran FTA would be a big change: Iranian official

KARACHI: Head of Strategic Council of Foreign Relations and former Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Kamal Kharrazi on Friday said the people of Iran and of Pakistan have deep-rooted religious and cultural bonds.

With the improvement in diplomatic and political ties, they will come closer and bilateral trade and economic cooperation will increase in the benefit of both the sides.

He was speaking at a roundtable discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues with members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) here.

Besides a delegation of Iranian scholars and the Iranian Consul General in Karachi, it was participated by senior media persons, writers and intellectual.

He noted that there were ups and downs in the relations at the government level, but through on-going dialogue on different issues including trade and investment, these two neighbourly Muslim nations would come closer to each other and would emerge as strong supporters on many fronts.

‘Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is under negotiations, if successful, there will come big change,’ he remarked adding that Iranians and Pakistanis had great respect and love for each other.

These two nations could not be separated.There was a big economic potential on both sides. Bilateral trade and economic cooperation could grow a lot, he said.

To a question, he said that the bilateral trade volume was low for certain reasons. The absence of banking channel between the two countries was one of the main hindrances. Pakistani banks were hesitant to start their operations in Iran due to foreign political pressure, he maintained.

Referring to the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project, he said that Iran had laid the pipeline up to few kilometres back to its border with Pakistan at the cost of billions of dollars. Iran is waiting for Pakistan’s action.

He recalled that Iran and Pakistan had been extending support and assistance to each other in difficult times.

Dr. Kamal said that he had visited Pakistan’s main cities forty years ago (in December 1978) to share the message of Iran’s revolutionary leader Imam Khumeni.

Iran’s former minister for foreign affairs strongly rejected that his country had made interventions in other countries and said Iran worked only for Muslims unity and quoted Imam Khumeni’s fatwa, ‘ Anyone who tries to divide Muslims into Shia and Sunni is kafir.’

He cited an example of Iran’s support to Palestinians who are Sunnis and to Syria where a majority of the population was Muslims. Iran also supported Iraqi government against Daish.

However, he made it clear that Iran would not hesitate to support any country who opposed Israel.The main focus of his country’s foreign policy was to oppose and resist Israel, the United States and European Union’s interventions, he said.

He said despite economic pressure due to the USA sanctions, the people of Iran were bold enough to defend their national independence and sovereignty.

‘Iranian people know, how to save their identity and national interests,’ he said adding that Iran was ready to have an alternative option.

Although Iran had remained under sanctions for almost forty years, yet her economy was sound, rather progressing.

Iran was doing well in science and technology and many other sectors, ‘$ 105 billion goods, we produce every year,’ he informed.

To a narration that Iran was getting very close to India who had also increased its role in the expansion of Chabahar sea-port, Dr. Kamal Kharrazi said that Iran had as good relations with India as with Pakistan and other countries especially in the region.

‘We had invited Pakistan, China and other counties to invest in Chabahar. It was an open venue for foreign investment. There was the western corridor and that Gwadar could be interlinked to Chahbahar port as complementary to each other,’ he said.

Iran had always been supporting Kashmir struggle. Iran had never complained that Pakistan had good relations with the USA and Saudi Arabia, he said.

When his attention was drawn to Afghanistan situation, he said that peaceful Afghanistan was very important for the entire region including Iran and Pakistan; even for Central Asian states.