- Former Iran FM says Pakistani banks reluctant to start operations in Iran due to foreign pressure
- ‘Iran has good ties with India but it never points out Pakistan’s good relations with US, Saudi Arabia’
KARACHI: Former Iranian minister for foreign affairs Dr Kamal Kharrazi on Friday noted that there were ups and downs in relations at the government level, but Pakistan and Iran would come closer to each other through on-going dialogue and would emerge as strong supporters on many fronts.
He was speaking at a roundtable discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues with members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) here. Dr Kharrazi who heads the Strategic Council of Foreign Relations said that the people of Pakistan and Iran have deep-rooted religious and cultural bonds.
With the improvement in diplomatic and political ties, they would come closer and bilateral trade and economic cooperation would increase in the benefit of both the sides, he said. Besides a delegation of Iranian scholars and the Iranian Consul General in Karachi, it was participated by senior media persons, writers and intellectual.
“A free trade agreement (FTA) is under negotiations between Pakistan and Iran. If successful, there will come a big change,” Dr Kharrazi said. He said that Pakistanis and Iranians had great respect and love for each other. These two nations could not be separated, he said.
There was a big economic potential on both the sides, he said, adding that bilateral trade and economic cooperation could grow a lot. To a question, he said that the bilateral trade volume was low for certain reasons. An absence of banking channel between the two countries was one of the main hindrances, he said.
He said that Pakistani banks were hesitant to start their operations in Iran due to foreign political pressure. 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 said.
He recalled that Pakistan and Iran had been extending support and assistance to each other in difficult times. He said that he had visited Pakistan’s main cities 40 years ago (in December 1978) to share the message of Iran’s revolutionary leader Imam Khumeni.
He strongly rejected that his country had made interventions in other countries and said that Iran worked only for Muslims unity. He cited an example of Iran’s support to Palestinians and to Syria. He said that Iran also supported Iraqi government against the 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 US and the European Union’s interventions, he said. To an impression that Iran was getting very close to India who had also increased its role in the expansion of Chabahar seaport, Dr 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 a 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, he said, adding that Iran had never complained that Pakistan had good relations with the US and Saudi Arabia.
When his attention was drawn to Afghanistan situation, he said that peaceful Afghanistan was very important for the entire region including Pakistan and Iran; even for Central Asian states. Earlier, PIIA’s Chairperson Dr Masooma Hassan briefed the guest about the institute history and research on different issues of national and international importance.