In stark contrast to one another
Pakistan has thrown its support behind Iran at a time when both countries are facing deteriorating relations with the US – the latter more so than the former. The way the US abandoned the hard-fought Iran nuclear deal was one of the worst decisions taken under the Trump administration. It also rightly drew the ire of the European Union who is also part of the deal. US sanctions that followed after the deal was not renewed are a product of the anti-Iran hawks in the Republican party and warmongers like John Bolton who is currently serving as Trump’s National Security Advisor. Not only was it the best deal that could be secured under the circumstances it also enjoyed international support and most of all, it was working with Iran keeping its word. Therefore, Pakistan’s position on Iran’s row with the West is the correct principled stance to take. Historically not the friendliest of neighbors, Pak-Iran ties have greatly improved and come a long way from issues with border security and the diplomatic spats that followed.
At the same time relations with our other neighbor to the West have taken a turn for the worse. Ties with Afghanistan were improving with Pakistan increasingly involved in the peace process there at every tier until a spate of attacks and the accusations that typically follow have brought us to square one. After the Ghazni attack that claimed 70 lives Afghan President directly called out COAS Bajwa claiming the militants came from Pakistan where they also received hospital treatment. Furthermore, Pakistan closed its consulate in Jalalabad amid increasing interference in its operations by Nangarhar’s provincial Governor. Apart from the diplomatic ramifications it creates impediment in cross border trade that is dependent on the consulate issuing visas and facilitating traders otherwise. Only a political peace process will be successful in ending this decades old conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan is crucial to that end. There are shortcomings on both sides that should be addressed through progressive dialogue rather than resorting to a blame games and consulate closures.