New Era in Pak-Iran Ties: Pakistan’s Army Chief Visit To Iran – OpEd

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Pakistan and Iran have maintained a generally cordial relationship due to regional dynamics and geopolitical factors. Historically, they have cooperated on issues like trade, energy, and security matters. Both countries share cultural, religious, and historical ties that have contributed to their relations. It’s essential to keep in mind that the dynamics of international relations can change rapidly.

Both countries are interlinked culturally and having strong political, economic and strategic ties. Despite global challenges and Western pressure against Iran’s nuclear program, Pakistan stood firm with Iranian side in its quest for territorial integrity. The leaders of both countries have been paying bilateral visits to either country. 

Apart from political interactions, military ties between both countries have been growing rapidly. Both countries’ military leadership is on the same page when it comes to maintain territorial integrity and other regional issues. Recently, Pakistan’s Army Chief General Asim Munir paid an official visit to Iran and discussed border mechanism and joint patrolling mechanism in order to curb the cross border threat of militancy. This visit will usher new era of defence cooperation between two countries. The recent regional strategic developments in Afghanistan and Ukraine-Russia war will bring both Iran and Pakistan closer and make a joint strategy to bring peace and stability in the region. 

One of the major irritants standing in the way of improved Pakistan-Iran relations is the presence of armed malign actors active along the common border of both states. These include criminals such as drug smugglers, as well as armed militants subscribing to both separatist and extremist ideologies. Therefore, it is understandable why border security was a dominant theme during army chief Gen Asim Munir’s recently concluded visit to Iran.

Through intelligence sharing and better coordination the security situation in the border areas can improve, so that malign actors are not able to use either country’s soil to harm the other. Militant groups and actors supported by hostile states will continue to try and vitiate the atmosphere, which is why the leaderships of both states must redouble their efforts to pacify the border region.

Alongside improving the security situation, promoting economic activity will also be beneficial for the underdeveloped parts of both Sistan-Baluchestan and Balochistan. Through increased trade and people-to-people contacts, Pakistan-Iran relations can be deepened, provided that both states jointly tackle the problem of terrorism and violent crime.

Iran and Pakistan share a border along their Balochistan provinces. The two countries also have shared interests in regional stability and combating common challenges, such as terrorism and drug trafficking. Iran and Pakistan have explored the possibility of energy cooperation, particularly through the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline (also known as the “Peace Pipeline”). The project aims to supply Iranian natural gas to Pakistan, but it has faced several delays and challenges, including international sanctions on Iran.

Trade between Iran and Pakistan has the potential to be significant, given their proximity and complementary economies. However, sanctions on Iran have limited the scope of economic relations between the two countries. Both countries have collaborated on security matters as well, particularly in addressing cross-border security threats and containing militancy in the border region.

Both Iran and Pakistan share borders with Afghanistan and have interests in the country’s stability. Both countries have historically played significant roles in Afghanistan and have different regional and strategic priorities, which can lead to divergent approaches. Both Iran and Pakistan have an interest in a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. Instability in Afghanistan can have spillover effects, including cross-border terrorism and refugee influx, which can impact both countries. They have faced threats from terrorist groups operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. They share an interest in countering these groups and preventing them from using Afghan territory as a safe haven for launching attacks.

The two countries share a 959-kilometer (596 miles) long border, which runs through their Balochistan provinces. This border has been a focal point for various security concerns, including cross-border movements of militants, drug trafficking, and other illegal activities. Cooperation in border security has been an important aspect of Iran-Pakistan relations. Both countries have recognized the need to address common security challenges along their shared border. They have engaged in intelligence-sharing and coordinated efforts to combat terrorist groups and criminal networks operating in the region.

Asad Ali

Asad Ali is an Islamabad based expert of South Asian Affairs

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