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An active approach or times of desperation: Iranian Foreign Minister arrives in Islamabad for the second time in two months


News Analysis |

Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif has arrived in Islamabad for a one-day official tour to hold a meeting with his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Army Chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa. The visit marks his second in two months since the Imran Khan-led PTI government has come into power.

The key point of the tour is said to be the abduction of Iranian guards along the Pak-Iran border on 16th October who has still not been recovered. Amid the chaotic internal situation of the country, the significance of the visit in undermined– by the protests of religious extremists all over the country.

Abducted Guards Still not Found

Iran said that 16 of its armed force personnel including two intelligence officers of elite revolutionary guard corps were abducted on October 16th, 2018. The abductees were stationed at a border post in Iran’s Mirjaveh area when they came under attack from “counterrevolutionary groups,” said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in a statement carried on state media.

Jawad Zarif is likely to ask Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to play their role in the safe recovery of the abducted Iranian officials.

The kidnapping occurred in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, which has a long history of unrest from separatist militants. It borders Pakistan’s sparsely populated province of Baluchistan. Iran believes that the activity has been carried out by anti-Shia or counter-revolutionary” forces which reside on the Pakistani side of the border.

Though Iran has not specifically named any country traditionally Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of igniting the anti-Shia state insurgency which the Riyadh has always denied. “We expect Pakistan to confront these terrorist groups that are supported by some regional states and immediately release the kidnapped Iranian forces,” the media wing of the IRGC said.

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Iran stressed on Pakistan to take out the extremist elements from its soil those who have been involved in the gruesome terrorist activities inside Iran. Following the event, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made a telephone contact with Jawad Zarif expressing solidarity with Iran and also assuring him the full cooperation regarding the matter. Jawad Zarif is likely to ask Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to play their role in the safe recovery of the abducted Iranian officials.

Looming Economic Sanctions

Iran is facing uncertain times ahead as the United States is going to enact an oil embargo on Iran once again. President Donald Trump has announced to go hard on the countries and cooperation who will continue the trade with Iran. Pakistan has already thrown the support behind Iran in the matter of abiding by the understandings of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The details of meetings would further reveal the existing and upcoming state of affairs, which for now are just confined to educated deductions.

Apart from Israel, the major driving force behind the resurge of economic sanctions against Iran is Saudi Arabia who wants to punish the Persian state for sponsoring insurgency just across its border in Yemen. The Saudi monarchy always found President Obama to be too lenient as far as Iran was concerned.

It found someone who shares the same resentment toward Iran in the form of President Donald Trump. Given the closure of Prime Minister Imran Khan with the King and the Crown Prince, it is likely that Iran’s Foreign Minister might ask him to help de-escalate the tensions between both the countries.

Read more: Saudi Arabia and Iran woo incoming Pakistani prime minister

The primary focus of the visit would remain the safe release of the abducted guards with the help of Pakistani authorities but a second official tour within a span of two months certainly means more substantial agenda. The details of meetings would further reveal the existing and upcoming state of affairs, which for now are just confined to educated deductions.

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