WEB DESK: Pakistan needs to strengthen the hands of President Hassan Rouhani viz-a-viz his domestic opponents who in the past have shown no love for it. President Rouhani, in his first visit to this country after removal of nuclear-related Western sanctions, also needs to go beyond normal rhetoric and exhibit whatever improvement in relations means when he says: “destabilisation of others causes everlasting conflicts that benefit nobody”.
The apprehension of the Indian spy (naval officer) with an Iranian visa stamped on his passport is certainly not helpful. Even though we are not yet clear – there are legitimate doubts over whether the RAW agent slipped into Balochistan via Iran or Afghanistan into Pakistan. However, Yadav carried an Iranian visa and was posted at Chabahar. It was, therefore, Iran’s responsibility to stop him from taking part in any kind of subversive activities.
President Rouhani needs to appreciate the U-turn in Pakistan’s stance to apprehend elements promoting Wahabi tendencies in society. Pakistan can ill afford any kind of terrorism within its territory. And, the Sunni-Shia divide serves no one but the enemies of Muslims. The Iranian President has underscored the need for greater cooperation between the two countries. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, too, has shown a similar approach to bilateralism, emphasising the need for enhancing trade to $5 billion. Iran knows well that Pakistan is an energy deficient country and needs Islamic republic’s oil and gas surplus to bridge the gap. Tehran can and should help Islamabad reduce its dependence on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. It is indeed shocking to learn that Pakistan is no longer meeting its crude oil needs through Iran.
At one stage Agha Jari crude from Iran was imported by us. And, Iran was also planning to invest in a refinery in Gwadar. This refinery plans were shelved after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Why should Chabahar port be an alternate port to Gwadar. After all Rotterdam and Hamburg ports exist in close proximity. Opening of two more land routes, besides Zahidan and Taftan, will indeed help. Both sides need to make it clear that their territories must not be used to destabilise any. It is indeed welcome that a new framework for enhancing bilateral trade and cooperation has been signed besides six fresh MoUs.
Let there be joint military exercises to boost confidence among the two neighbours. Proof of the pudding would be in eating. Pakistan has taken the first step by apprehending those elements who were indulging in the killings of Shias. It was done in our own interest since this country’s institutions are not divided on Sunni-Shia lines. Iran being a Shia-dominated state should also show more tolerance and respect for opposing schools of thoughts and prevail on its friends to stop dividing the Ummah and accept Pakistan’s intervention to lessen tension in the region.
For example, Iran needs to consider allowing setting up of mosques by Sunnis. President Zia-ul-Haq strived for nine long years to reduce tensions between Iraq and Iran despite Radio Zahidan’s belligerent propaganda against Islamabad.The radio would often describe General Zia as ‘a US dog’.
Last but not least, oOne must not lose sight of the fact that the Iranian people have withstood western sanctions in a highly commendable manner. This newspaper salutes them for displaying a very high degree of perseverance and maturity. Let the two leaders press the reset button in their relationship in an effective and meaningful manner.
Source: Business Recorder