Terrorism, Coronavirus Complicate Iran-Pakistan Relations

  • In the past, Tehran has complained to Pakistan that it does not take action against anti-Iranian organizations.
  • Many defense analysts in Pakistan complain that Iran has created problems for Pakistan by giving access to India in Chah-e-Bihar.
  • Some are hopeful that after the Army Chief's call, cooperation between Pakistan and Iran could increase.

After Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa‘s contact with Iranian Army Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hussain Bagheri, a debate has erupted in many parts of the country over whether the two countries will cooperate on terrorism. The contact comes at a time when there is a growing perception in Pakistan that separatists who attack the army seek refuge within the Iranian border.

After Pakistan gained its independence in August 1947, Iran was the first country to recognize its sovereign status. Pakistan is also the only country where Iran is viewed positively as per the polls conducted by Pew Research Center. Polls have consistently shown that a very high proportion of Pakistanis view their western neighbor positively.

It should be noted that, in the past, Tehran has complained to Pakistan that it does not take action against anti-Iranian organizations, such as Jundullah and Jaish-ul-Adl, whose fighters are allegedly hiding in Pakistan’s border areas.

“The COAS said that Pakistan has started fencing the border but will require mutual bilateral cooperation to ensure border security and stem smuggling activity which is also used by terrorists and Narco traffickers for covering their movement,” the  Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Many defense analysts in Pakistan complain that Iran has created problems for Pakistan by giving access to India in Chah-e-Bihar. Leading defense analyst, Gen. (Ret.) Amjad Shoaib, says Iran should take effective measures for border security. “I think there are anti-Pakistan camps in Iran, where militants are hiding.”

There is no evidence that Iran is running these camps or aiding the militants, but the militants are not being dealt with as actively as Jundullah or Jaish-ul-Adl. So Pakistan wants full action against such elements. He further said that India was conspiring against Pakistan from Chah Bihar. In addition, effective monitoring of the Pakistan-Iran border is needed to further improve relations between the two countries.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Ayatullah Durrani, who has a keen eye on Balochistan’s affairs, said that after the Army Chief’s call, cooperation between Pakistan and Iran could increase. Relations with Afghanistan are not good, but there is no such problem with Iran. Durrani added that he hopes relations can improve and that, after the talks between the two military chiefs, they will definitely improve.

Imran Khan is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Pakistan and the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Before entering politics, Khan was an international cricketer and captain of Pakistan national cricket team, leading the team to the victory in 1992 Cricket World Cup.

However, former Balochistan Information Minister and spokesman Jan Mohammad Baledi believes that unless Pakistan formulates its foreign policy with its own interests in mind, problems with Tehran will not be resolved and there will be no cooperation.

“We view our relations with Iran from a Saudi perspective and also in the interests of the United States,” he told reporters. “There are tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the region, while relations between Iran and the United States are not good. So we should not look at the interests of Saudi Arabia or the United States, but should formulate a policy based on our own interests.”

“Iran is ready to make things right with us,” he said. “So we have to get out of that.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan will play its role in easing tensions in the Middle East, and will not be a part of any conflict. Prime Minister Khan reiterated that Pakistan would not be a party to any dispute. According to him, Pakistan will support every effort made for peace,

“Steps are needed to avoid further tensions. War is not in anyone’s interest. Conflict in the region has taken a heavy toll on Pakistan. Pakistan will not be a part of any more war. Pakistan has also made efforts to end the disputes between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan will stand for peace.”

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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