Pak-Iran bilateral ties amid Iranian President visit
ISLAMABAD: Iranian President Hasan Rouhani is likely to visit Pakistan by the end of March. After lifting of sanctions against Iran by the UN this would be the first visit of Iranian President to Pakistan.
Iran has started to increase its outreach to the world in order to enhance its bilateral ties with the regional as well as with the international powers.
Iran is a neighboring muslim country with which Pakistan has historic and close bilateral ties . However the prospects of increasing the bilateral ties between the two neighbouring Islamic states are enormous and Pakistan can and will have to take advantage of the post sanctions situation in Iran.
Earlier Turkish PM visited Iran and despite of serious differences between the two neighbouring Islamic states, both countries agreed to enhance the bilateral trade and commercial ties to $30 billions annualy.
Chinese President also during his visit to Iran agreed to enhace bilateral trade and commercial ties to a spectacular level of $600 billions in next 10 years time.
There is an over view of how Pakistan can take benefit of the post sanctions situation in Iran and Pak-Iran bilateral relations can reach to new heights in the best interest of the two states.
1. Pakistan can incorporate Iran in China Pakistan Economic Corridor Project CPEC and hence billions of Iranian oil export can pass through Pakistan to China giving Pakistan an enormous amount of money by just nominal taxation.
2. Billions of Dollars of trade from China to Iran can pass through Pakistan and the country would be a huge beneficiary being the transit route. It is pertinent to mention here that Iran and China have agreed to enhance bilateral trade to $600 billions in next 10 years and much of this trade mass can be passed through Pakistan by incorporating Iran in CPEC .
3.Direct route from China to Iran via train takes 30 days to reach Tehran however if Pakistan becomes the transit trade route between the two by virtue of its geography the distance is reduced to days via Torkham border and not even weeks which could be a huge benefit to both the countries.
4. Pakistan- Iran gas pipeline is one such project by virtue of which Pakistan can get cheaper energy resource at its door step and can fullfill the immediate requirements of the Baluchistan and Sindh Provinces at least.
5. Pakistan can import cheap oil from Iran with much less transportation Costs and save valuable foreign exchange reserves with its cash starved economy.
6. Iranian Chahbahar post with the help of India is emerging as the regional rival to the Gwadar port, However the cooperation between the two Islamic neighbor states can convert this competition to cooperation as Iranian goods and Chinese imports can reach to China etc. with the help of transit route through Pakistan.
7. With better Iranian ties the problem of insurgency in Baluchistan province can be greatly minimised as the the insurgency has few links with the Iranian Baluchistan- Sistan province militants.
8. In past Indian consulate in Zaidan has been suspected of being involved in anti Baluchistan activities which can be managed with Iran through close bilateral ties .
9. Pakistani exports of fruits and textile to Iran can earn revenue worth billions of dollars hence adding to the National exchequer.
10. Pakistan can get a vital trade route to Turkey and further to Europe by enhancing bilateral road and rail links via Iran to Europe.
11. Pakistan and Iran both have strong Militaries and there joint cooperation in defence sector can be greatly beneficial to both countries.
12. The rising threat of ISIS in Afghanistan can jointly be combated by Pakistan and Iran through effective intelligence sharing as the menace of terrorism is dangerous for the regional security.
13. With effective and close cooperation with Iran, Pakistan can deny the huge space which India has created within the Iranian policy making circles.
14. Pakistan has huge Shia population within its ranks which has connection and spirtual links with Iran and better bilateral relations between two states can always help reducing menace of sectarianism within Pakistan.
15. Enhanced bilateral relations with Iran can further dispel the impression within Iran and in Islamic world regarding Pakistan becoming an ally of Saudi Arabia in its sectarian war.
16. If Saudi Arabia can call India it's strategic ally then why Pakistan cannot have improved bilateral relations with Iran in its best national interest.
17. Last but not the least, States can change their friends but cannot change the neighbours. Iran being an important western neighbour of Pakistan can greatly enhance border security and management issues at the western front in relieving much of the Pakistan defence Forces worries from the western front.
Pakistan should adopt a balanced foreign policy towards all muslim countries and especially the neighbours. Saudi Arabia occupies the highest place in the heart of every muslim being the custodian of two holy mosques but at the same time Pakistan must keep close and brotherly relations with all Islamic countries and especialy Iran as envisaged by its founding father Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.