TEHRAN: Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Monday met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Presidential Palace in Tehran during his two-day maiden visit for enhancing bilateral relations and hold detailed discussions over critical regional issues.
After discussing the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, and the means to further bolster their relations in diverse fields, PM Khan and President Rouhani addressed a joint press conference.
It has been revealed that both Pakistan and Iran have agreed to set up a Joint Rapid Reaction Force to guard the common borders.
No other country can influence Pak-Iran ties
“No third country will be allowed to influence friendly ties between Iran and Pakistan,” Rouhani said while emphasising on strengthening bilateral ties between Tehran and Islamabad. He further maintained that both sides have expressed their resolve to enhance the existing relations.
He accepted Pakistan PM Imran’s invitation to visit Pakistan and hoped he would be able to fly to Islamabad soon.
He said unfortunately some tensions were witnessed in the border areas in the recent past where terrorists perpetrated their nefarious acts. He said both sides have reaffirmed their commitment to achieve peace and security in the entire region.
Rouhani asserted that both neighbours have also agreed to bolster their trade and economic ties. “We have agreed to set up a barter committee so that goods and other items could be exchanged. We are also interested in establishing links between Gwadar and Chahbhar ports in order to strengthen our commerce relations,” he stated.
The Iranian President said his country was ready to meet the oil and gas requirements of Pakistan.
“We have already taken effective measures to construct the gas pipeline with the Pakistani border. Iran is also ready to increase power supply to Pakistan [for meeting electricity shortage].”
The two leaders also discussed regional peace and security with particular reference to Afghanistan.
Rouhani expressed confidence that the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister would prove to be “a turning point in expanding relations between the two countries.”
Pakistan will not allow militants to operate from its soil
PM Khan began his address by evoking nostalgic memory of the pre-partition era when Indians could speak Persian.
“If British had not come to the sub-continent, there would be no need of an interpreter as Indians could also speak Persian,” he said, while expressing his gratitude to Iran for the hospitality and respect extended to the Pakistani delegation.
He praised what he considered “a reflection of social equality in Iranian society.
“The difference between the rich and poor has diminished in Iran,” he said, adding that such a revolution is required in Naya (new) Pakistan.
PM Khan outlined Pakistan’s stance on terrorism by stating that the country will not allow any militant group to operate from its soil.
He maintained that Pakistan has suffered devastating effects of terrorism more than any other country, and praised Pakistan Armed Forces for countering and succeeding in the war against terror.
“I felt that the issue of terrorism was going to increase differences between Pakistan and Iran. So it is very crucial for both countries to resolve this issuethis issue,” PM Imran said.
He proclaimed that both Pakistan and Iran were affected by the war in Afghanistan and the peace in Afghanistan “is in the interest of both countries.”
“Millions of Afghan refugees are residing in Pakistan and Iran,” he said, adding that achieving peace is not possible without justice [in the society].
“70,000 people have lost their lives in occupied-Kashmir, and [Kashmiris] are being brutally massacred on daily-basis,” he said.
Pakistan’s premier also condemned Israeli atrocities in Palestine and termed them “a gross violation of the International Law.”
“War is not a solution to any problem; rather justice can lead to peace. Peace in Afghanistan will yield positive outcomes in terms of trade and both countries will be able to benefit from it,” he added.
He said Pakistan wanted to benefit from Iran’s experience in the health sector.
“A few days ago, our 14 armed personnel were martyred in Balochistan,” he said, adding that his visit would restore ‘trust’ between both countries.
Pakistan and Iran also signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the health sector while both leaders witnessed the signing ceremony.
PM Khan is visiting Iran on the invitation of President Rouhani. He is also scheduled to meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Earlier today, the premier arrived at the Presidential Palace in Tehran where he was received by Rouhani. The national anthems of both countries were played during the welcoming ceremony, after which PM Khan was presented a guard of honour.
The premier is also expected to meet Pakistani and Iranian business community in Iran.
Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistant to PM on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Special Assistant to PM on National Health Services Dr Zafarullah Mirza and Special Assistant to PM on Petroleum Nadeem Baber are included in the Pakistani delegation.
On Sunday, the premier landed at the Tehran International Airport where he was warmly welcomed by Iranian Health Minister Dr Saeed Namaki.
Earlier, he paid his respects at the shrine of Imam Ali Raza during a brief stopover in Mashhad at the start of his two-day maiden visit to Iran. He met the leadership of the Khorasan-i-Razavi province and asserted that maintaining good relations with neighbours “was the cornerstone of his government policy.”
PM Khan – whose visit followed the brutal incident on April 18 near Ormara, in which 14 personnel belonging to the armed forces, including Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards, were shot dead and Pakistan lodged a strong protest with Iran over “its inaction against the terror groups believed to be involved in the Ormara killings” – on his highest priority will discuss border security issues with the Iranian leadership.
Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) had lodged a strong protest with Iran over the matter.
In a letter written to the Iranian embassy on Friday, the MoFA stated: “Killing of 14 innocent Pakistanis by terrorist groups based in Iran is a very serious incident that Pakistan protests strongly.”
On Saturday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Islamabad had evidence the “terrorist outfits” that carried out the attack have “training and logistic camps inside Iranian areas bordering Pakistan”.