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Saturday May 18, 2024

Raisi’s visit

During Raisi’s visit, Iran and Pakistan signed a total of eight accords on varying subjects to enhance cooperation in the different fields including trade

By Editoril Board
April 24, 2024
President Asif Ali Zardari and the Iranian President, Dr Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, held a meeting, at Aiwan-e-Sadr on April 22, 2024. — APP/
President Asif Ali Zardari and the Iranian President, Dr Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, held a meeting, at Aiwan-e-Sadr on April 22, 2024. — APP/

Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will leave for Tehran today (Wednesday) after a three-day official visit that started on April 22. This was the first visit by any head of state to Pakistan after the general elections and quite an important one given what is happening globally and regionally. During Raisi’s visit, Iran and Pakistan signed a total of eight accords on varying subjects to enhance cooperation in the different fields including trade, science technology, agriculture, health, culture, and judicial matters. Pakistan and Iran have also agreed to increase trade volume to $10 billion. The signing ceremony also marked the ratification of a security cooperation agreement between the governments of both countries. Raisi also visited Lahore and Karachi during his time in Pakistan.

Given the historic ties between the two countries not just because we share a border but also due to a vibrant Shia population in Pakistan, Raisi’s visit is being looked at as a diplomatic success. It is important for Pakistan that we should always look at our economic ties with our neighbours first as we all have mutual and important reasons to collaborate. Unfortunately, the US is playing the role of a bully again with Pakistan receiving an understated warning from Washington over its growing closeness with Tehran. On Tuesday, the US State Department spokesperson said that the US advises “anyone considering business deals with Iran to be aware of the potential risk of sanctions”, while also reminding Pakistan of its trade and economic ties with Washington. This comes on the heels of last week’s sanctions by the US on four international companies for supplying “missile-applicable items to Pakistan’s ballistic missile programme”, an allegation that was rejected by Pakistan’s Foreign Office. The US is again trying to police Pakistan – as it does with several other countries around the world, while it completely overlooks how it is funding a genocide in the Middle East. Such a threat of sanctions has also meant that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline has been in the ‘pipeline’ for over a decade. It may be a good reminder for the superpower that peace and good ties are inextricably linked with economic ties in many ways; two countries that invest in each other will also make sure that their borders remain safe. It would be good for the US as well as for regional peace that Iran-Pakistan ties remain solid and they both form a security network for counterterrorism.

The Iranian president’s visit was important. Pakistan needs more such high-level solidarity visits as our diplomatic and strategic importance has shrunk over the years globally. After the Saudi delegation visit, the Iranian president’s visit also shows how Pakistan has tried to balance its relations in Middle-East politics. The tensions between Iran and Pakistan after the border skirmishes earlier this year seemed to have been resolved. Pakistan has tried to maintain better ties with all its neighbours. We have even tried to extend an olive branch to India under Narendra Modi but the Indian premier is not just someone who targets Muslims in his own country; he also makes it a point to target Pakistan to target the Muslim minority in India. As for Afghanistan, Pakistan knows that it has to work with whatever regime is in place there. This is why Pakistan asked that we work together to fight terrorism but the Afghan Taliban would rather harbour terrorists than listen to their neighbour. We have excellent ties with China, which doesn’t mean that Pakistan will overlook its relations with the US. We need a fine balance between good relations with our neighbours and also balancing ties with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar as well as with Iran, China and the US. This is what mature diplomacy looks like. It is time for Pakistan to focus on its economy and diplomacy. Let domestic dramatics take a backseat. For this, we need political stability. Nothing else will work.