Friday , January 19 2018

Stalled Islamabad-Tehran ties back on track after Gen. Bajwa’ s visit

Analysis/ Arif Qureshi

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa made a historic visit of Iran which is being considered a mile stone in the Pak-Iran fractured relations. Upon his arrival in Tehran on 5th November Iranian Chief of General Staff (CGS) Major General Muhammad Bagheri  received General Qamar Javed Bajwa and was presented guard of honor at General Staff HQ in Tehran. During his stay in Tehran General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian foreign minister Jawad zarif, Iranian defense minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami, General Qamar Javed Bajwa also visited the head quarter of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and met with the Commander-in-Chief of (IRGC) the Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari.

A delegation which consists of family members of senior Pakistani military officials visited historic residence of Imam Khomeini in Tehran, and Gen Bajwa also made a surprise visit to Mashhad before landing Islamabad. Pakistan ambassador to Iran Aasif Durani and Iranian ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honor Dost assisted their respective countries in the meetings. 

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was third army chief who visited Iran in last two decade, earlier Gen Raheel Sharif visited along with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in  (2016) and Gen Pervez Musharraf went Iran in June(2000) to take part in Economic Cooperation Organization( ECO) Summit. According to analysis’s there are multiple aspects of the tour of Pakistan army chief to Iran.  it was expected that besides his meetings with top Iranian civil and military leadership, the army chief will meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei but it did not happen.

According to Details During the meetings, COAS discussed issues related to Geo-strategic environment, defence & security and economic cooperation at bilateral as well as regional level. Afghan situation, growing threat of ISIS in the region and Pak-Iran border security also came under discussion. Iranian leadership thanked COAS for his visit and acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices and achievements in war against terror, contributions towards regional peace and the important positive role that Pakistan is playing in this regard.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says terrorism as well as sectarian and ethnic rifts are the main issues afflicting the Muslim world and there is no doubt that differences among Muslim countries can be settled through dialogue. President Rouhani welcomed the expansion of defense and military cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad in order to boost regional stability and security, saying that the Iran was determined to have cordial and strong relations with neighboring countries, including Pakistan.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, Iranian Chief of General Staff (CGS) Major General Muhammad Bagheri , foreign minister jawad zarif and defense minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami  but the most important interaction was his visit to the head quarter of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and meeting with the Commander-in-Chief of (IRGC) the Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, in that meeting two sides underlined expansion of military and defensive relations, ways to hold joint military exercise and training.

Pakistan’s  Key concern is the growing Indian influence in Iran, and there have been suspicions about India using Iranian soil to destabilize Pakistan and the arrest of Indian spy agent  Kulbhushan Jadhav in March 2016 enhanced the Pakistan’s concerns.

And at the same time Iran is worried about the presence of Iranian militant group Jaish ul Adal along the Pak-Iran border that have been targeting Iranian border forces in the recent past.

it seems that issues have been addressed in the bilateral meetings in details as General Qamar Javed Bajwa termed Pak-Iran border as border of Peace and Friendship and insured its better security management.

The crux of the Gen Bajwa’s visit was a bilateral decision in which Both countries agreed ” Pakistan’s soil will not be used against any country including Iran and Iran has given same commitment to Pakistan regarding growing Indian influence”.

Iranian right from the first day showed concerns over the formation of Saudi Arabian led Islamic Military Alliance. Before leaving Tehran General Asif Ghafoor in his press conference said that our relations with Iran are not at the cost of our relations with any other country and vice a versa. His reference was clearly towards Saudi Arabia and gulf countries. he said We greatly value our relations with Iran which have a positive history, culture and religion. That clearly showed Gen. Bajwa assured Iranian civil and military leadership that Pakistan’s inclusion in Saudi led Islamic military alliance is not against any country rather it is against terrorists. And the Pakistani commitment was fulfilled last week when Former Chief of Army Staff, General (retired) Raheel Sharif, who has been appointed as Commander-in-Chief of Islamic  Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) in Riyadh has categorically declared that the Saudi-led coalition was not against any religion or state.

it will be too  early to say that both Pakistan and Iran have overcome the distrust that has kept them apart since long but one thing is clear that both have addressed the disputed issues at right platform.  Now It is the responsibility of diplomatic missions of both countries to keep follow the commitments made by their respective leadership.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa In a meeting with the Governor of Razavi Khorasan Province Ali-Reza Rashidian said Iran and Pakistan will open a new border point to ease Pakistani pilgrims’ visit to Mashad.

The writer is an editor of “The Fortress”, he can be reached at arifqoreshi@gmail.com

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