Pakistan, Iran renews IP gas pipeline cooperation

As Raisi wraps up visit, FO joint statement vows to deepen ties

Our Correspondent April 24, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on April 22, 2024 in Islamabad. PHOTO: PID



Pakistan and Iran have agreed to forge deeper cooperation as they decided to expedite the process of inking a free trade agreement (FTA), convert their common frontier into a “border of peace and friendship,” according to the joint statement issued on Wednesday at the conclusion of a three-day official visit by President Ebrahim Raisi.

The Iranian president was the first head of state from Iran to visit Pakistan since 2017. His visit came against the backdrop of a host of developments, including tit-for-tat missile strikes between Iran and Pakistan in January and brewing tensions in the Middle East.

President Raisi, during his three-day trip, held wide-ranging talks with Pakistani leadership and travelled to Lahore and Karachi. Despite the US veiled threats of possible implications for Pakistan seeking closer ties with Iran, the two countries in the joint statement agreed on a series of measures to boost their bilateral cooperation.

“Both sides agreed to enhance mutual interaction through regular exchange of high-level visits to strengthen fraternal relations,” read the joint communiqué.

The joint statement, highlighting the historical, cultural, religious and civilisational ties between the two neighboring and Muslim countries, said the two sides reiterated their commitment and dedication to further strengthening the bonds through the promotion of academic, cultural and tourism activities, and by enhancing tourism to historic religious sites in both countries.

Acknowledging that the Pakistan-Iran common border should be the ‘border of peace and friendship’, both the sides reiterated the importance of forging regular cooperation and exchange of views between political, military and security officials of the two countries to combat threats such as terrorism, narcotics smuggling, human trafficking, hostage-taking, money-laundering and abduction.

The two sides agreed to further expand trade and economic cooperation and affirmed their commitment to transform their common border from ‘border of peace’ to a ‘border of prosperity’ through joint development-oriented economic projects, including setting up of joint border markets, economic free zones and new border openings.

They also reiterated the importance of cooperation in the energy domain, including trade in electricity, power transmission lines and IP Gas Pipeline Project.

The two leaders agreed to boost their bilateral trade to $10 billion over the next five years. Both sides underscored the imperative of a long-term durable economic partnership and collaborative regional economic and connectivity model, particularly for socio-economic development in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province and Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

With a view to further strengthening bilateral economic cooperation, both sides agreed to expeditiously finalise the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and hold the next sessions of Annual Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) and Joint Business Trade Committee (JBTC) as well as the 22nd round of the negotiations of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) in the near future.

They also agreed to facilitate regular exchange of economic and technical experts, as well as delegations from Chambers of Commerce from both countries to intensify economic cooperation. The declaration of ‘Reemdan border point’ as an international border crossing point under TIR and opening of the remaining two border sustenance markets was also agreed.

There was consensus to fully operationalize barter trade mechanisms between the two sides to facilitate economic and commercial activity, particularly under ongoing collaborative endeavours, such as border sustenance markets, which would contribute towards improvement of the economic situation of local residents, and further constitute a step towards enhancing border security.

Pakistan and Iran stressed the importance of harnessing their respective geographic locations for promoting connectivity between the two countries as well as with the broader region.

The two sides noted with satisfaction the progress made in the regular shipment of goods under the TIR Convention and agreed to fully operationalize the Convention to further promote efficient, speedy and barrier-free trade between Pakistan and Iran.

It was agreed that full operationalisation of the TIR Convention would also enhance regional integration and connectivity across the wider ECO region.

As members of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the two countries expressed firm resolve to enhancing cooperation in connectivity, infrastructure development and energy sectors. The two countries also agreed to expand mutually beneficial and enduring linkages between the sister ports of Gwadar and Chahbahar.

While condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, both sides recognised that terrorism posed a common threat to regional peace and stability and presented a major impediment to the development of the region.

It was agreed to adopt a collaborative approach to confront this menace and to leverage the existing bilateral institutional mechanisms to effectively combat and counter this threat, while fully upholding the principles of the UN Charter, particularly the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states.

Both the sides also acknowledged the key role of enhanced economic and commercial opportunities in improving the security environment in the border areas.

Taking note of developments at regional and global levels, both the sides stressed the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and diplomacy to find mutually acceptable solutions to common challenges.

Both sides highlighted the need to resolve the issue of Kashmir through dialogue and peaceful means based on the will of the people of that region, and in accordance with international law.

Both the sides expressed their strong and unequivocal condemnation of the ongoing Israeli regime’s aggression and atrocities against the Palestinian people, along with the inhumane blockade of Gaza that has resulted in widespread death and destruction as well as displacement of millions of Palestinians.

They called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, unimpeded humanitarian access to the besieged people of Gaza, return of the displaced Palestinians, as well as ensuring accountability of the crimes being committed by the Israeli regime. They reiterated their support for a just, comprehensive, and durable solution based on the aspirations of the people of Palestine.

While highlighting the importance of regional cooperation for economic development, the two sides acknowledged that the ECO region possessed immense potential for the development of the economies of the member countries, and called for active cooperation among the regional countries within the framework of ECO.

They shared the view that cooperation between SCO and ECO could play a valuable role in accelerating the progress and development of the entire region.

Both the sides reaffirmed their commitment to the development of Afghanistan as a peaceful, united, sovereign and independent state, free from the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking.

Noting that the existence of terrorist organisations in Afghanistan poses a serious threat to regional and global security, the two sides reaffirmed their willingness to enhance cooperation on counterterrorism and security and to develop a united front against terrorism.

The two sides also noted the relevance of coordinating regional and international efforts to ensure security and stability in the region, and emphasised the positive contribution of existing regional forums towards this end.

While respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, the two sides recognised that increasing participation of all strata of Afghans in basic decision-making will lead to the strengthening of peace and stability in this country.

The two sides expressed their agreement to release each other’s’ prisoners and take measures for their extradition based on the Treaty for the Extradition of Criminals and the Accused between Iran And Pakistan approved by the two countries in 1960 and the Agreement on the Transfer of Convicts between the two countries approved in 2016.

The two sides strongly condemned the attack on the Consular Section of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, which was an unacceptable violation of the sovereignty of Syria and undermined its stability and security.

They agreed that the attack was a violation of international law and the UN Charter, and was illegal under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

Recognising that the irresponsible act of the Israeli regime forces was a major escalation in an already volatile region, both the sides called on the UN Security Council to prevent the Israel regime from its adventurism in the region and its illegal acts attacking its neighbours and targeting foreign diplomatic facilities.

The two sides condemned rising incidents of Islamophobia, desecration of the Holy Quran and sacred symbols in some countries. They also emphasised that advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence must not be allowed under the pretext of freedom of expression.

They welcomed the adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution 78/264 titled “Measures to Combat Islamophobia” in this regard and called for an early appointment of a United Nations Special Envoy to combat Islamophobia, as well as implementation of other relevant measures contained in the resolution.

Iran also expressed its appreciation for Pakistan on the initiative to adopt the Resolution on “Measures to Combat Islamophobia” in the UN General Assembly.

Iran and Pakistan called on the United Nations Security Council to take action against Israel, saying it had “illegally” targeted neighbouring countries and foreign diplomatic facilities. The joint statement, released by the Foreign Office, followed a three-day visit to the country by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at a time of heightened tensions in the Middle East.

"Recognising that the irresponsible act of the Israeli regime forces was a major escalation in an already volatile region, both sides called on the UN Security Council to prevent the Israeli regime from its adventurism in the region and its illegal acts attacking its neighbours...," Iran and Pakistan said in their joint statement.




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