Pakistan Army Chief Tehran visit opens new vistas in Iran-Pak ties

IRNA – Defense Minister of Pakistan said that Pak Army Chief’s recent Iran visit has opened new vistas of cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad.

Khurram Dastgir Khan made the remarks at a Public Talk on ‘Contours of Security Environment of Pakistan’, organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).

He said an opening has also been achieved recently with the neighboring Iran; recent visit by Pakistan Army Chief to Tehran was significant in opening of conversation with the neighboring state.

He added that just two days ago national security advisers of the two countries have also met and exchanged views on bilateral ties, regional and global developments.

The minister briefed the audience on the security landscape of Pakistan. He started with how the Pakistan government has not only revitalized long-standing relations with both Saudi Arabia and Turkey but has also made progress with countries like Russia.

“Over past five years Pakistan has concluded its first ever defense cooperation agreement with Russia, we have pushed some defense equipment and we have also conducted joint military exercises,” he noted.

About China, he remarked that as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor materializes, relations between the iron brothers are further firming up.

The minister added Pakistan remains adamant that the Afghan war will not be fought on the Pakistani soil.

He added Pakistani people, its armed forces, economy and infrastructure have suffered losses beyond imagination during the anti-terror US alliance since 2001.

“Shall we begin to put a price tag on the use of ground lines of communication, use of airline communication, use of ports and air bases, matchless intelligence cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda and shall we put a price tag on three million Afghan refugees which Pakistan continues to host,” the minister asked.

He went on to say that it is convenient to blame Pakistan for cross-border terrorism, where the US has not lifted a finger to help fence-up the border. “Pakistan sees Afghanistan as a sovereign neighbor and wishes to see its neighbor prosper as a democracy,” the minister noted.

He said the way forward is not through threats, notices or suspensions of supports. This distracts everyone from the prize which is sustainable peace in a democratic Afghanistan.

‘We have eliminated safe havens of terrorists and are clearing the remnants of terrorists from our soil. But it is also a fact that 43 percent of Afghanistan is outside the control of its government. That 43 percent also needs to be cleared and dealt with,” he said.

All veils are off in Pak-US ties and it is time for candid dialogue between Islamabad and Washington with everything on the table.

Earlier, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman of ISSI, in his welcome remarks said that the security for an individual or a state is a continuous process. Ever since its inception, Pakistan has grappled with security issues – security has been the top priority on its national agenda.

“Unfortunately, President Trump blames Pakistan for the United States’ failure to bring about peace in Afghanistan. President Trump’s outburst has invoked a huge frenzy, and his ill-considered approach towards Pakistan is being criticized within the US as well,” he said.