Pakistan and Iran have agreed to work hand in hand
From SHAMIM AHMED
Dec 10 - 16, 2001
After the fall of Taliban government in Afghanistan
the main irritant in the relations of the two countries has been
removed. Now putting the bitter past behind, Pakistan and Iran have
agreed to work hand in hand, not only for the establishment of
broad-based multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan, but also to
establish a number of joint committees to catch up with the lost time on
bilateral trade, commerce and economic joint ventures including the mega
project of Pak-Iran gas pipeline extending up to India.
Relations between Pakistan and Iran are back to
normal and the two sides now share absolute unanimity on all issues
including Afghanistan, announced Dr. Kamal Kharazi, the Foreign Minister
of Iran, during a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Abdul
Sattar on Friday last.
Kharazi had just come back from a very productive and
rather lengthy meeting with President Musharraf on Afghanistan and
bilateral matters while his large delegation met with their
counter-parts to sort out the nitty gritty of renewed relations between
the two capitals. A number of joint ventures, economic projects and
trade agreements between Iran and Pakistan had been lying in a cold
The two Foreign Ministers reported to the press that
the two countries now enjoy complete harmony and a new era of
relationship has begun. "Taliban are matter of past and shadows
that marred our relations don't exist any more. Sun is shining and we
should take full advantage of it," were the very warm remarks of
Abdul Sattar who looked happy, satisfied and confident about the outcome
of his talks with the Iranian delegation. Bringing Iran on board for the
reconstruction of Afghanistan and also reviving the historic brotherly
ties with Tehran has been Pakistan's wild dream ever since the fall of
Taliban and rise of Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
Iranian Foreign Minister announced that the two sides
have agreed to form various joint committees which will start the
implementation process. We have already lost lot of time due to Taliban
controversy and cannot afford to lose more. "I have ordered my
people to visit Pakistan very soon to examine the procurement of wheat,
sugar and rice from Pakistan. Most importantly we have decided to
establish a joint technical committee to complete the feasibility report
of Pak-Iran gas pipeline on war footing basis," said Dr. Kharazi.
The two sides have also decided to establish a joint committee for
reconstruction of Afghanistan under the UNDP and other international aid
agencies. "Now when the Taliban government has fallen, Pakistan and
Iran have a major role to play for peace, stability and reconstruction
of Afghanistan. We both support UN efforts to put together a broad-based
multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan. We will also adhere completely
to the UNSC Resolution 1378 about the international terrorism," the
joint statement said.
While both expressed complete unanimity and
satisfaction over the Bonn process, the two sides have a minor
difference of perception over the stationing of multinational peace
forces in Afghanistan. Iranian Foreign Minister was of the view that
Bonn process should facilitate a quick establishment of a transitional
council, which can then form a national police or national guards for
the security of the country. But the Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar left
the issue wide open for the negotiating Afghan parties in Bonn to decide
if they want a multinational force inside their country or not. We will
support the decision of the Afghan people but Pakistan as a matter of a
policy decision will never send its troops to Afghanistan, said Sattar.
The visiting Foreign Minister, Dr Kamal Kharazi, said
his country would buy wheat, rice and gasoline from Pakistan while it
offered to sell, besides oil, railways wagons.
Exports from the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture
would be coming to Islamabad next week to review steps for removal of
procedural difficulties in wheat deal. The import of wheat from Pakistan
has to match the standards set by Iran, Kharazi said.
Similarly, another team of experts from the two
countries would discuss the issue of export of rice and gasoline to
Iran. In his turn, Dr. Kharazi said his delegation also discussed the
possibility of buying sugar from Pakistan, provided it met the standards
of his country Kharazi led a delegation of 19 officials representing the
Ministries of Commerce, Economic Affairs, Communications and Defence.
Abdul Sattar said that the two delegations had
discussed in detail issues concerning their respective ministries that
were expected to go a long way "in giving a new direction,
strengthening our ties with Iran".
In his remarks Dr. Kamal Kharazi spoke of the old
project of a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and later to India and
said that a joint technical committee of experts was being set up to
revive the project. He said Iran had a similar committee with India
which was seized of the purchase of gas from Iran and was preparing a
feasibility report. More than that, Dr. Kharazi said his delegation also
represented Iranian private sector and they had a very good discussion
with their Pakistani counterparts on the opportunities for joint
ventures and also investment in Pakistan and railroad wagons.
He said in addition they had discussed measures to
increase cooperation in the joint cultural heritage and in this
connection the Pakistani government had approved plans for construction
of a new building for Pakistan Iran Cultural Institute that had been
working in Islamabad for quite some years. He said that the Institute
had worked very hard to collect rare books and manuscripts on the common
linguistic and cultural heritage and it needed a proper accommodation.