Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Pakistan, Iran Relations ‘Back on Track’ Despite Chabahar-Gwadar Rivalry

Pakistan-Iran relations seem to be back on track according to latest reports after the two neighbours allegedly disagreed to allow ‘third parties’ to derail their historical ties. Relations between Iran and Pakistan went into a slump after Tehran accused Islamabad of harbouring terrorists while Chabahar-Gwadar Rivalry also took a tool on ties.

The relationship between Islamabad and Tehran had been tense since the February 13 suicide attack in Iran’s volatile southeastern province of Sistan-Balochistan, leaving 27 Revolutionary Guards dead.

Iran pointed a finger at Pakistan for harbouring ‘terrorists’ at a time when it was facing similar allegations from India after the February 14 Pulwama attack.

For once it looked as if India was able to successfully use Iranian attack to its advantage. However, while Pakistan battled out India on diplomatic and military fronts, it reached out to Iran quietly through ‘relevant channels’ to defuse the crisis.

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Now after weeks of those efforts, relations between the two countries is back on track.

“The misunderstanding between the two brotherly countries is over and the conspiracy of third party is demolished,” said Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardost.

Talking to a group of journalists at the embassy, the Iranian envoy also said “soon there will be very good news” for the Pakistan-Iran relationship.

“The fact that I have invited you today is to convey a message that relations between the two countries are back on track,” Honardost added.

It is believed that Pakistan worked overtime to ensure that relations with Iran do not get affected at a time when India has been trying to isolate Pakistan diplomatically.

One of the reasons the Iranian ambassador was upbeat was because of Pakistan’s recent action to rescue Iranian border guards.

On March 21, Pakistan rescued four Iranian soldiers being held captive by a militant group in Balochistan.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had said in a statement the rescue took place in Chagai district, near the Afghan border.

The rescued soldiers were then handed over to the Iranian authorities. Tehran thanked Pakistan’s efforts to recover the abducted border guards. The recent telephonic conversation between President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister Imran Khan also helped defused tensions between the two neighbors.

The Iranian envoy said Pakistan and Iran could promote their institutional cooperation in a variety of economic, political, security and cultural spheres through a long term strategic approach.

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“In this case, incidental events are too minor to affect the relations of the two countries,” he stressed, referring to recent events that stirred a diplomatic row between the two neighbours.

“External factors and third parties should not affect the relations between Iran and Pakistan and the relations between the two countries must reach it maximum level,” he added. Responding to a question, the Iranian envoy insisted that there was no rivalry between the Gwadar Port and Chabahar port of Iran. “In fact, both the ports can complement each other.”

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