NAM summit: Despite pressure, Zardari talks trade with Iran

Published: August 31, 2012
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President Asif Ali Zardari shaking hands with President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. PHOTO: APP

President Asif Ali Zardari shaking hands with President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. PHOTO: APP

TEHRAN: 

Defying the increasing international pressure to isolate Iran, President Asif Ali Zardari talked trade, investment and energy with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, on the sidelines of the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

In what may also be construed as a symbolic move, the two leaders discussed the situation in Afghanistan and Syria – two war theatres where Pakistan’s uneasy ally, the United States, plays a major role and is particularly wary of Iranian influence in both.

Amidst the flourishes and diplomatic niceties of a leader-studded multilateral summit, President Zardari also met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmonov.

All talks centred on more trade and regional integration, and better ties with neighbours.

Talk with Ahmadinejad

Presidents Zardari and Ahmadinejad reaffirmed their commitment to complete work on several joint projects, including the multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, electricity transmission lines and road links.

The US has been persistently trying to convince Islamabad to abandon the IP gas pipeline project, and sweetening the offer with various other gas projects originating from Central Asian states and passing through Afghanistan.

Islamabad, until now, has appeared to defy the pressure.

The president noted that the current volume of trade between the two countries is far below the existing potential and said there is a need to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers and identify alternative arrangements to expand the bilateral trade.

The two sides also reviewed progress on the mega projects, including the IP gas pipeline, the 1,000MW Taftan-Quetta power transmission line, the 100MW Gwadar power supply project, construction of Noshki-Dalbandin section of Quetta-Taftan Highway and up-gradation of the Quetta-Taftan railway track.

The leadership also discussed issues related to visa facilitation and opening of the new border posts to connect Karachi and Gawadar with Chah Bahar and Bandar Abbas through the coastal highway.

The two sides also agreed in principle to operate new flights between Islamabad and Tehran, Peshawar and Mashhad, and Quetta and Gilgit to Mashhad.

The regional situation especially that of Afghanistan and Syria also came under discussion.

Pakistan desires an immediate end to the bloodshed in Syria and will continue advocating principles of non intervention and non interference in the internal affairs of states, the president said.

President Zardari also expressed condolences over the losses that Iran suffered due to the recent earthquake and offered all possible assistance.

Dialogue with India

In his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Zardari said that Pakistan and India must make determined efforts and maintain focus to steer the dialogue process in a productive and result-oriented manner.

“We have covered a lot of ground but we still have to go a long way,” President Zardari said, adding it is important to move beyond reiteration of positions to more substantive results. He added that Pakistan was keenly looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at an early date.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar later described the meeting between the two leaders, as “good”.

“There is ample proof that the political leadership of the two countries is committed to improving and normalising ties,” Khar said.

She said that Pakistan believes it is the right approach to have better ties with all countries, particularly those in the region.

The foreign secretaries of the two countries are meeting at Islamabad in September to review the second round of dialogue process that resumed after a gap of two years, following the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

India has acceded to President Asif Zardari’s request to allow a judicial commission from Pakistan to cross-examine three witnesses related to the trial of 26/11 attacker Ajmal Kasab, The Hindustan Times reported on Thursday.

“The government has a positive view on this request from Pakistan,” the newspaper quoted Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai as saying following a 40-minute meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the NAM summit.

During the meeting, Singh urged Zardari to speed up the conclusion of the trial of seven accused in Pakistan in connection with the 26/11 attacks.

Zardari said “the judicial requirements in Pakistan were slowing down the process and brought up again the issue of cross-examining three witnesses in India” — the magistrate who recorded Kasab’s statement and two doctors involved in his examination.

Quadrilateral summit

President Zardari and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmonov also met on Thursday and discussed bilateral ties, cooperation in trade and energy sectors and vowed to make the forthcoming quadrilateral summit in Islamabad a success.

President Zardari, who has extended an invitation to the presidents of Russia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan to participate in the 4th Quadrilateral Summit in Islamabad on September 26 – 27, hoped the meeting would help the participating countries chart out a joint future course of action for regional peace.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Nauman
    Aug 31, 2012 - 4:01AM

    This is pathetic. Iran banned all women (50% of its population) from pursuing higher education last week, and here we are talking to them like they’re our allies! Shameful, Mr. Zardari! Very disappointing. We should not be talking to Iran.

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  • Aug 31, 2012 - 4:36AM

    Quite a lot of good news in this article. Hope that these things are implemented in their true spirit.Recommend

  • Fahad
    Aug 31, 2012 - 7:47AM

    Good to see this, better comment first before all the Indian in ET start bashing : )

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  • Mard-e-Haq
    Aug 31, 2012 - 8:21AM

    @Nauman,

    Lot’s of Pakistani women and children get blown up by US drones. Isn’t that more shameful? Every other week, a girls school gets blown up in Pakistan as well. Isn’t that shameful?

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  • Ammar
    Aug 31, 2012 - 8:25AM

    @Nauman up there appears so ignorant of the actual facts in Iran (re: women and higher education in Iran) that one wonders if he is not indeed a pseudonym for one of the thousands of psy-ops plants by the United States designated to further their interests through social media proliferation throughout the world.

    If not, my dear Nauman, please go and look up the facts on what you stated and then decide whether you should have said what you said.

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  • Chaigram
    Aug 31, 2012 - 8:51AM

    @Nauman: I don’t know where you get your news Mr. Nauman. Please educate yourself on Iran, I will suggest looking up the Government of Iran site. Your comment shows lots of ignorance.

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  • Asim
    Aug 31, 2012 - 9:01AM

    Iron man Vs Gold man

    Mehmood is the son of an iron worker, an engineer by profession on the other hand pakistani GOLD man is worth 1b$plus…

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  • USMAN786
    Aug 31, 2012 - 9:06AM

    @Nauman:
    they restd certain fields for women. What abt Saudia and even Pak? How many female doctors are working? Electricity will be cheaper to import than from Qatar etc. But please donot make promises/agreements which we cannot adhere under UN or west’s pressure and end up paying penalties

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  • Hammad
    Aug 31, 2012 - 9:27AM

    The only thing that should remain supreme to us are our own interests. Take gas, electricity or whatever is required not only from Iran but from anybody who offers us good prices. We have already seen enough of the double standards of this so called ‘International Community’. For this I would even praise someone like Mr. Zardari.

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  • Asim
    Aug 31, 2012 - 9:29AM

    what about iran pakistan gas pipeline ? we signed it more than a decade ago ! any progress ? No ! CAN A SLAVE EVER TAKE HIS OWN DECISIONS ?

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  • Aug 31, 2012 - 9:47AM

    our old friend ‘america’ unlikely be happy a visit to IRAN – MEN IN ISLAMABAD AWARE OF IT!

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  • Abdullah
    Aug 31, 2012 - 10:03AM

    @Nauman bedoin

    what you think of other Leading muslim countries.

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  • Cautious
    Aug 31, 2012 - 10:06AM

    Nice photo op — two unpopular leaders who’s economies are crumbling trying to create an image that they are doing something to improve things — unfortunately neither party has the ability or apparent will to get things beyond the drawing board.

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  • Zaid Ali
    Aug 31, 2012 - 10:09AM

    @Nauman
    People like you are really sick. When the West is on an all out propaganda against Iran (given the condition in ME & Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah being strong allies of Iran) do you really believe on an article published in the Telegraph? If so, then you have already fallen to the Zionist/Imperialist propaganda against the Islamic Republic.
    You should be well aware how the West did WMD propaganda to invade Iraq/Libya & how they destroyed WTC in order to wage war on Afghanistan.
    The West wants its hegemony over the world. Some countries’ rulers (like Paksitan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain etc) fall become the their proxy regimes. On the other hand, the sovereign countries with brave rulers (like Russia, China, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran etc) don’t want to become proxies of US/EU.

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  • sick of this nonsense
    Aug 31, 2012 - 10:18AM

    @Nauman:
    Pakistan does lots of trade with the US, gave most favored nation status to India and you are objecting to Iran? Are you high?

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  • Hassan
    Aug 31, 2012 - 10:38AM

    @Nauman:
    Sorry to say that if we dont talk to our next door neighbours like afghanistan, india, and then to Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, then to whom we should talk. Secodnly look at the huge investment of a muslin country in its R&D of ICT. Thirdly, high number of book readers in any muslim country and maximum number of PhDs in their parliament. Please check your states better first and we should learn from them.

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  • PTI Mardan
    Aug 31, 2012 - 12:39PM

    What is Bilawal zardari doing with his dad there? Is this some kind of personal business meeting or meeting between heads of states?Recommend

  • dr.wac
    Sep 1, 2012 - 10:35AM

    we should strengthen our relations with our neighbors. instead of continuing the policy of slave and master with so called super power (USA), We must stand firm on our feet. by increasing trade with our neighbors iran and india, we will become able to solve many of our economic and energy issues.

    Recommend

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