Iran and Pakistan will be setting up a joint rapid reaction force along its common borders, announced Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a press conference on Monday.
Addressing the joint press conference with Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said no third country is able to influence the brotherly relations between the two countries. We have also decided to improve bilateral relations between the two countries and are keen to do so, he said.
We have, unfortunately, witnessed tension due to acts of terrorism along the border in recent months and have inked an agreement to boost security cooperation, he said.
President Rouhani also lauded the great potential for trade and commerce between the two countries and agreed to expand trade ties.
We listed the capacities and agreed to expand bilateral trade and bilateral relations, he said, adding that Iran is prepared to meet the oil and gas requirements for Pakistan. Necessary measures to connect a gas pipeline to Pakistan have been taken and we are prepared to increase exported power to Pakistan 10 times what it is today, he announced.
The two countries will also form a barter committee so that the goods and needs of the two countries are exchanged and barter accounts are cleared, he said.
Ties between Chabahar and Gwadar will be expanded by a connecting railway network, announced the Iranian president. Many issues such as further cooperation needed towards peace and security in Afghanistan and other regional issues were also discussed, he said. The two leaders also discussed “inappropriate” measures taken by the US in the region.
Iran, Pakistan and Turkey are the founders of the Economic Cooperation Organisation and relations between the three have always been good so the governments want to connect Istanbul, Tehran and Islamabad via rail.
I was glad to hear PM Khan say Pakistan is not taking part in any war or military coalition and will not ever do so, he said. This determination is based on establishing peace and stability in the region. He also announced that he has accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan but did not disclose the date.
“I am confident that this visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan will serve to be a turning point in the expansion of relations between the two countries,” he said, thanking him for coming to Iran.
PM Khan recalled when he first came to Tehran during his student days and said he saw a big difference in the country, something that he wanted to see in Pakistan. The difference between the rich and the poor was very great when I first visited but today I see that Iran is a more egalitarian society, he said, appreciating the effects of the revolution on the socioeconomic imbalances in the country. We want a similar revolution in Pakistan, he said.
“The most important reason I’m here is because I felt that the issue of terrorism was going to increase differences between our countries and that it was important to come here with our security chief to resolve this issue,” he said. Pakistan has also suffered a lot due to terrorism, perhaps the most in the world, and has lost 70,000 people, he said, appreciating the military and intelligence agencies for the way they tackled terrorism in Pakistan and overcame it.
We are luckier than Afghanistan, he said. We have decided, across our political spectrum, that we will not allow militant groups to operate on our soil, PM Khan announced, adding that this is the first time Pakistan has been working to actively dismantle militant groups. But this isn’t because of outside pressure, he said. Through a consensus, we have decided that we will not allow our soil to be used by anyone against anyone, he said.
Just a few days ago, we had 14 of our security personnel killed by terrorists in Balochistan, he said. Iran has suffered due to terrorism from groups operating from within Pakistan, he admitted.
That is why our security chief will be sitting with his counterpart and discussing ways of cooperation to build trust tin each other and that both countries won’t allow terrorist activity from their soil, he said.
The premier said he hopes this will help build confidence in each other that we won’t allow any damage to your country from our soil.
The issue of Afghanistan, the four decades of war in Afghanistan, has affected Pakistan and Iran, said PM Khan. At one point Pakistan hosted four million refugees and today we have 2.7 million, he said, adding that Iran has hosted almost three million.
It is in the interest of both our countries that there is peace in Afghanistan and we will cooperate with each other in helping there be a political settlement there, he said. If there is peace in Afghanistan it will help not just the people of Afghanistan, but Pakistan and Iran in trade, he said. There will also be employment and a better standard of living for our people, he said.
We have decided to cooperate in helping there be a political settlement in Afghanistan, he announced.
And I feel strongly that without justice there is no peace, said the premier. A huge amount of injustice being done to the Palestinian people, he said, going on to condemn the Israeli occupation of Golan Heights. He added that like Kashmir, the conflict in Palestine had no military resolution. Political dialogue not military means will bring peace and stability, he said.
We have discussed the way of cooperation, like trade improvement that will benefit both of us, said PM Khan, adding that Pakistan is particularly interested in how Iran, ever since the revolution, has improved its primary healthcare. We have brought our minister to understand how we can benefit from the experience, he said.
He also said that there will be increased cooperation in energy, science and technology. There is limited trade right now and the idea is that both countries will benefit once we improve trade, he concluded.