Positive Shift in Pakistan-Iran Relations

(FZ Khan, Islamabad)

It is matter of great satisfaction that Iranian government is taking keen interest in joining hands with Pakistan towards resolving the Afghan imbroglio, as the emerging situation, after the Kunduz fall, has sent warning shots to both the countries. Keeping in view the ISIS presence, Pakistan has welcomed Iran’s offer of playing a role in the Afghan talks. Both the countries have realized that the complex Afghan issue cannot be resolved alone without involving neighbouring countries, especially Iran. This positive shift in the Pakistan-Iran relations and continuous strengthening of ties holds the key towards regional peace.

The talks were held with Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, who arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit for talks on security cooperation and border issues. Mr Shamkhani holds a very important position in Tehran; he is close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He has a long career of serving the Iranian Navy from where he retired as Rear Admiral. Lately he happened to be the Defence Minister of Iran, and was made Secretary of the SNSC that looks after the defence and security policies, especially of the Gulf countries.

There was a long pause in such kind of talks, probably because of Iran’s mistrust on Pakistan, but thanks to the successful Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Islamabad’s facilitation in holding talks with the Taliban, this has changed the entire perception around the world, especially amongst the neighbouring countries. Zarb-e-Azb has the credit that the White House invited Nawaz Sharif, Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to visit Islamabad, India is near willing to talk, and the government has gained confidence.

Mr Shamkhani held talks with Sartaj Aziz, Adviser on Foreign Affairs, and Nasser Janjua, the new National Security Adviser reportedly on Afghanistan, border security, intelligence-sharing, presence of ISIS in the region, security cooperation and exploring the prospects of bilateral cooperation. Border security between Pakistan and Iran remains to be a sensitive issue, since there had frequently been border checks over illegal immigrants’ entry into Iran. The infiltration of terrorists, enemy agents into Balochistan province from the Iranian side is also a major issue of Pakistan’s concern. Iran had earlier this year also offered cooperation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries for countering terrorism.

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