Iran-Pakistan ties: Boosting bilateral cooperation for improved trade, security

A delegation from an Iranian think tank exchanged views on bilateral cooperation with their Pakistani counterparts at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS) Islamabad earlier this week.

The three-member delegation from the Institute of Political and International Studies (IPIS), Tehran, which is affiliated with the ministry of foreign affairs, discussed emerging regional and global scenarios at a bilateral dialogue, the eleventh in the series.

ISS Director Najam Rafique highlighted the fact that despite our geographical location, commonality of heritage, and the potential to cater to each other’s needs, trade relations between the two countries remain underdeveloped.

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There are reports that Iran plans to completely seal off its eastern border with Pakistan and Afghanistan by 2015, he said. Mentioning, a report by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, the speaker stated that data on the patterns of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iran from 2008-2011 reveals that exports decreased from $399 million in 2008-09 to $161 million in 2010-11, indicating a decrease of 59.4%.  This indicates the absence of meaningful economic cooperation which testifies to the absence of political will.

ISS Research Fellow Qasim Mustafa reiterated that, in South Asia, terrorism has disrupted regional cooperation. He expressed the concern that terrorism had emerged as a regional challenge by exploiting internal weaknesses of regional sates, especially when key states are engaged in pursuing its conflicting geo-political interests and are busy in fighting proxies of their powerful global masters through other means.

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Furthermore, due to conflicting geo-political approaches the states fail to utilise their common regional framework of cooperation against terrorism, he stated. “As a result, terrorism expands its outreach and impact, and emerges as a major internal as well as regional stability and security challenge.”

Mustafa also highlighted the fact that terrorists do not recognise borders. “They only collaborate for shared ideologies, exploit social, economic and political inequalities and fight against certain governing systems or ways of life.”

He proposed that common human security policies at the national and regional level should be developed, bilateral relations to build trust where regional states, do not use terrorist elements for geo-strategic interests need to be improved and an effective regional cooperative framework to fight terrorism should be implemented.

IPIS Director General Dr Mostafa Tork Zahrani stated that many problems that we face today in the region can be traced back to the 9/11 incident.  “Social movements get violent when other non-state actors step in and radicalise it for their ends.” Social movements are born when the government does not value its people and their issues are not addressed, he added.

ISS Director General Dr Rasul Bakhsh Rais pointed out the dangers of extremism and emphasised that Afghanistan has always been internally divided and this weakness created space for outside intervention.

By The Express Tribune


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