While Pakistan and Iran have already had a number of shared interests, a new one has been added to the list after the Taliban’s assumption of power in Afghanistan. While Pakistan has held high-level talks with the leaders of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Iran has so far not been a part of the parleys except briefly at the SCO moot. In case the talks with the top level Iranian military team which is currently visiting Pakistan prove fruitful, these could lead to parleys between the two countries’ heads of government.
Both Pakistan and Iran need peace and stability in Afghanistan as this alone can guarantee that there is no major outflux of Afghan refugees to the neighburing countries. Like other regional states, Iran also believes that there has to be an inclusive government in Kabul instead of a purely Taliban administration. Iran also shares Pakistan’s concerns about the looming terrorist threat in the region. Among other things like intelligence sharing, Iran is keen to send its military personnel to Pakistan to participate in anti-terrorism drills.
Border security continues to be a matter of common concern between Pakistan and Iran. The two countries share a 959-km-long border, which is infested with criminal gangs, militants and drug traffickers. There have been violent incidents in the past on both sides of the border as well as attacks on security forces of the two countries. Action from both sides has improved the situation though occasional incidents keep straining the relations. The offer of amnesty to the TTP, which has frequently targeted the Shia community in Pakistan, could create doubts in Iran about the PTI government’s commitment to eradiation of terrorism.
Pakistan and Iran can gain a lot from close relations. For the last over ten years Iran has supplied electricity to adjoining districts of Balochistan. It is willing to provide power to Gwadar also. The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project initiated with much fanfare by former President Zardari has not been completed. There is sufficient potential of trade between the two countries. The sanctions imposed on Iran by the US stand in the way of the realization of the potential. There is a need for an out of the box solution to bypass the sanctions. Keeping in view the lack of imagination in the PTI government, there is little hope of its making an effort in that direction.