ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran on Wednesday expressed concern over the growing trend of Islamophobia and agreed on close coordination to support efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan at a time when militant attacks continue inside the country and the intra-Afghan negotiations have stalled. Pakistan also conveyed deep appreciation for the Iran’s supreme leader’s steadfast support for the Kashmir cause.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who arrived with his delegation on Tuesday, called on Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa separately.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said during the meeting with Iranian FM that Pakistan and Iran enjoy close and cordial relations, underscoring the need to work closely for promotion of peace, security and development in the region. He also emphasized that the two countries must further strengthen bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit.
The prime minister extended condolences over the loss of precious lives in Iran due to COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing Pakistan’s experience, the prime minister saidthat the “smart lockdown” strategy and other measures taken by his government led to significant containment of the pandemic in Pakistan.
The prime minister also emphasised the need for enhanced bilateral cooperation with special emphasis on bilateral trade and economic relations. He also underscored the need to work closely for promoting peace, security and development in the region.
Highlighting Pakistan’s efforts towards facilitating peace and stability in Afghanistan, the prime minister said that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict. The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and hoped that this historic opportunity would be seized by all Afghan parties to secure a political settlement.
The prime minister added that peace in Afghanistan would be beneficial for the entire region as it would create new opportunities for trade and economic cooperation as well as regional connectivity.
Dr Javad Zarif conveyed personal greetings and commitment of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to work closely with Prime Minister Imran Khan for further strengthening bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.
Pakistan says that this two-day visit would help in deepening bilateral cooperation and developing a better understanding of each other’s perspective on regional issues.
In the meeting at the Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi underlined that peace in Afghanistan was paramount for sustainable stability and prosperity in the region, said his office in a statement. Javad Zarif is accompanied by senior officials, including Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan Mohammad Ibrahim Taheriyan.
Reaffirming Pakistan’s support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, Qureshi highlighted Pakistan’s positive contributions. He added that the intra-Afghan negotiations offered a historic opportunity which all sides must seize to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.
After their one-on-one meeting, both sides held delegation-level talks where they reviewed all aspects of bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues.
The two sides also discussed the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) while Qureshi highlighted India’s illegal actions to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory.
“Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored the importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Iran as a fraternal country and important neighbour,” said the statement.
Qureshi extended condolences over the loss of precious lives and commended the Iranian government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Pak-Iran trade was another issue during the talks with Pakistan emphasised the importance of optimally utilising the existing bilateral mechanisms to increase cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, and connectivity.
It was suggested to the Iranian side that there was need for regular interaction at multiple levels and the bilateral mechanisms should be also used for security and people-to-people exchanges and to strengthen mutual collaboration in multilateral fora.
The two foreign ministers exchanged views on the rising Islamophobia in different parts of the world and agreed to undertake efforts to counter this negative trend.
Later, the Iranian FM called on COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters (GHQ). According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Zarif discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security situation including Afghan reconciliation process, Pak-Iran border management and border markets.
The COAS said that enhanced Pakistan-Iran cooperation will have positive impact on regional peace and stability. Zarif appreciated Pakistan’s positive role for regional stability, especially Afghan peace process, and pledged to keep working for better relations between two brotherly countries.
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