The Institute of Strategic Islamabad (ISSI) organised a Public Talk on “Pakistan-Iran Relations” on May 27, 2016. The distinguished speaker on the occasion was, H.E. Mehdi Honardoost, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Pakistan. The talk was held under the ISSI’s Ambassador’s Platform forum.
Ambassador Masood Khan, Director General ISSI in his welcome remarks highlighted that Pakistan and Iran enjoy very warm relations that were anchored on very strong foundations. Both countries are neighbours and have religious, ethnic, cultural and linguist bonds. In the recent past, the leaderships of both sides have exchanged visits and through this new beginning, both countries are trying to form a new relationship post-US-UN sanctions. He stated that in the economic realm, the Iranian-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline is considered to be a flagship project between the two countries and needs swift implementation. He went on to say that Pakistan needs Iranian steel, oil and gas and iron and electricity and there are plans to build industrial sites inside Pakistan, particularly for petro-chemical storage for which Iran has promised to help with infrastructure development. Likewise, Pakistani products particularly textiles, surgical instruments, sports goods, and agriculture products also have a huge market in Iran. The Ambassador stated that there have been deliberate efforts to increase bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2021. Pakistan also wants to connect Iran to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and both Iran and China have shown interest in this. He went on to say that Gwadar and Chabahar do not have to be rivals, but in fact become sister ports. Both countries share a unique economic geography: they are neighbours, they have contiguous territories; and are therefore very keen to cement their economic partnerships. In fact, Pakistan should think of its western corridor passing through Iran going upwards north to Central Asia and Moscow, and westwards towards Turkey and Europe. Hence, Tehran is a conduit for Pakistan and any development in Iran does not mitigate development in Pakistan. Ambassador Masood stated that Pakistan wants to see peace and stability in the region. Both Iran and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are eminent and most important countries in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Pakistan wants harmony to prevail.