–PM tells Iranian President Rouhani Pakistan won’t allow militants to misuse its soil against any country
–Iran and Pakistan agree to set up joint border ‘rapid reaction force’ to counter terrorism
TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan agreed on Monday to set up a joint border “rapid reaction force” to counter terrorism, as the latter reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to not allow misuse of its territory by militant groups.
The understanding came at a meeting between the two leaders in Tehran. Prime Minister Imran is on an official two-day visit to Iran, his first visit to the country since assuming the office.
Addressing a joint press conference later, the Iranian president said it was unfortunate that the two countries had witnessed tensions in the border areas in the recent past, where the terrorists had perpetrated their nefarious acts.
He said that during the talks, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to peace and security in the entire region.
Addressing reporters, Prime Minister Imran said that Pakistan has resolved not to allow any militant group to operate from its soil.
“We have been facing [impact] of terrorism since long. In Pakistan, we have suffered more terrorism than probably any other country. In the past [few years] we have lost around 70,000 people. Full appreciation must be made for our security agencies, with the way they tackled terrorism in Pakistan,” the premier said.
“We are committed to not let it happen again. We will not allow any militant group to operate from our soil. We will not allow our soil to be used by anyone against anyone.”
“I felt that the issue of terrorism was going to increase differences between Pakistan and Iran. So it’s very important that we [resolve] this issue,” he added.
On the ongoing peace talks in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran said peace in the war-ravaged country was in the interests of both Pakistan and Iran.
“We will cooperate with each other in helping bring a political settlement in Afghanistan,” he said.
“Without justice, there is no peace. Huge injustice is being done to the Palestinian people. Israel’s decision to occupy Bolan and make Jerusalem its capital is against international norms. Similarly, atrocities being done to the Kashmiris are condemnable,” the premier added.
He stressed that peace and stability in the region could only come from dialogue, not military might. “We hope there will be a peaceful political settlement in Kashmir.”
Recalling his visit to Iran while he was still studying, Prime Minister Imran said he appreciated how Iran has become a very egalitarian society.
“This should be appreciated. This is what the Iranian Revolution did. This is what we envision as Naya Pakistan. We want to see the divide between the rich and the poor in Pakistan reduce, like it has reduced in Iran,” the premier noted.
On a lighter note, he remarked, “If the British had not colonised the subcontinent, we wouldn’t be needing an interpreter because all of us would be speaking Persian, [which had long been the court language in the subcontinent].”
Iranian President Rouhani said his country is ready to meet the oil and gas requirements of Pakistan, adding that Iran has already taken measures to construct a gas pipeline to the Pakistani border.
He said Iran is also ready to increase exports of electricity to Pakistan.
Emphasising that “no third country can harm the brotherly and close relations between the two countries”, Rouhani said the two sides agreed to bolster their trade and economic relations and to set up a barter committee so that goods and other items could be exchanged.
The president said Iran is also interested in establishing links between Gwadar and Chahbhar ports in order to strengthen the bilateral trade relations.
The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the health sector.
Prime Minister Imran and Iranian President Rouhani also held talks at the Saadabad presidential palace in Tehran earlier in the day.
The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, regional issues and ways and means to further bolster their relations in diverse fields.
Prime Minister Imran was also presented with an official welcome upon his arrival at the Saadabad Palace.
On Sunday, the prime minister landed at Mehrabad Airport of the Iranian capital city along with a high-level delegation, he was received by Iranian Health Minister Dr Saeed Namaki, a statement issued by the PM’s Office said. A smartly turned out contingent presented a static salute to the prime minister.
This is his maiden visit to Iran after assuming office in August last year. The prime minister was initially scheduled to visit Iran in January, but the visit was postponed at the eleventh hour because of unexplained reasons.
PM Imran’s visit comes after the Ormara massacre in which 14 people were killed by terrorists in Balochistan’s Ormara. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the terrorists had come from Iran. He also said that the Ormara attack won’t affect the premier’s Iran visit.
“As much as 20 terrorists backed by Iran-based militant organisation clad in camouflage uniform of the Frontier Corps (FC) entered Pakistan from Iran and conducted an attack,” he added.
Pakistan also shared actionable evidence with Iran and asked the neighbouring country to act against elements involved in the attack