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Pakistan once again opts to stand with a friend, Iran, over the USA


News Analysis |

Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, visited Pakistan as the first foreign dignitary to meet with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister of Pakistan. Initially, it was speculated that Pakistan might request the Iranian delegation to postpone their visit after the U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pakistan. The reason surfacing for the possible development was to allow the U.S Foreign Minister the feat of being the first foreign delegate to visit Pakistan after newly elected PTI government and hence use it for enhancing the ties between both the countries.

But the government, certainly doing the right thing, not only welcomed the Iranian delegation but also threw all the moral support with Iran in its row with the USA over looming sanctions. Prime Minister Imran Khan, recalling the “inseparable brotherly bond” between both the countries expressed gratitude for Iran’s support for the self-determination of Kashmiri people and the unprecedented jubilus celebration of Pakistan’s Independence Day in Iran this year.

In the recent economic war between Turkey and the U.S.A, Pakistan sided with Turkey which was the first major sign of the new direction which the government is adopting.

As per Foreign Office statement, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed solidarity with Iran over the current crisis and reiterated Pakistan’s categorical stance that nuclear technology for the peaceful purpose is the right of every country. Mr. Qureshi called for the remaining signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Iran’s nuclear deal to stay true to their words.

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President Donald Trump has given the ultimatum to those countries which import oil from Iran to halt the trade by November 4, 2018, or else they would have to face sanctions as well. Though Pakistan’s major suppliers of crude oil are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Iran still remains the part of countries list which replenishes Pakistan’s oil needs. So far there has been no indication from the government regarding the oil trade with Iran.

Iran has been determined to improve its ties with Pakistan, especially in the current scenario. Iran’s president sent congratulations and wishes for the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan which were followed by never-seen-before, state level celebration of Pakistan’s Independence Day in Iran on 14 August 2018. Billboards and electronic screens in major cities of Iran displayed significant monuments of Pakistan and friendship messages with Iran.

The reason surfacing for the possible development was to allow the U.S Foreign Minister the feat of being the first foreign delegate to visit Pakistan after newly elected PTI government and hence use it for enhancing the ties between both the countries.

Another minute but the very important detail was Pakistan’s map shown on the screens and boards which included Jammu and Kashmir as the part of Pakistan. It sent a clear message that despite Iran’s close economic ties with India, a country which has invested billions in Chahbahar port and a   major importer of Iranian oil, it has not backed down from supporting the right of self-determination of Kashmiri people. These gestures were equally responded by the Pakistani government as the close partnership between both neighbors is very important on security and economic spectrum.

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In recent times, Pakistan has also sought to improve the security ties with Iran. Last year COAD General Qamar Bajwa went to Iran for the official tour and in the early part of 2018 welcomed Iran’s military delegation at GHQ. Both the countries had some concerns in the past about border management, illegal trespassing, and smuggling.

Pakistan is gradually aligning its foreign policy to cater to the national needs rather complying with the U.S aspirations, as in the past. In the recent economic war between Turkey and the U.S.A, Pakistan sided with Turkey which was the first major sign of the new direction which the government is adopting.

But it is very important to realize that the paradigm shift away from the United States should not translate into going totally against it. Both the countries have several areas where they need close cooperation to help each other out. Hence, instead of taking an entirely different stand, both countries should look out for mutual interests and work toward it.