Convener Senator Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum HI(M) has observed that Pakistan has always reaffirmed that we will never be a party to Iran’s economic strangulation and any other measures to curb its growth. Iran was the first country to recognise Pakistan after it gained independence in 1947. Subsequently Pakistan was the first country to recognise the new governance structure in Iran after the Iranian Revolution. He termed the relationship between Iran and Pakistan as one of hearts.
The meeting was held with the convener Senator Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum HI(M) in the chair and was attended among others by Senators Walid Iqbal, Syed Muhammad Shah Ali Jamot, Iranian Ambassador Mr. Mehdi Honardoost, Dr. Muhammad Aejaz from the Foreign Office and Mrs. Sommayah from the Iranian Embassy.
The Ambassador hoped that the mutual cooperation will see new heights between the executive, Parliament as well as the people. He remarked that the people and the commonalities are the backbone of this relationship. The Ambassador apprised the friendship group about the expectations of the Iranian side from the bilateral relationship. He said that many of the hurdles and problems come for Iran because of the fact that Iran supports adamantly the Palestinian cause. He said that Iran is not scared of sanctions and is one of the best in its defence.
Hard times pass away but bitter memories never leave. He said that Pakistan and Iran need to activate all of their potentials for the betterment of bilateral relationship including banking transactions. He said that all sanctions on Iran originate from United States and not from any international organisation like UNO or EU and hence are not under any other binding. He also said that the gas Pakistan can get from Iran Pakistan Gas Pipeline will be 30% cheaper compared to the gas Pakistan currently imports. It can create jobs, reduce the gas shortage among other benefits for Pakistan. He also touched upon the issue of initiating regular flights between Iran and Pakistan of PIA and Mahan Air and working on the purchase of Mashaak aircraft from Pakistan. The matter of opening border points was also discussed.
Both sides agreed that steps should be taken for mutual interest of both countries. The convener and members of the friendship group observed that both Iran and Pakistan cannot avert their eyes from each other’s problems. Railway connectivity, easy transportation to visitors who go to Iran every year and cooperation between Gwadar and Chahbahar was also discussed. The Ambassador appreciated the work of the Foreign Office in resolving many of the issues at bilateral level.
Dr. Muhammad Aejaz from the Foreign Office while responding to the matters raised that all of the issues were discussed at length before and during the Prime Minister’s visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran. He said that Pakistan has expressed intention to move ahead on all of the persisting issues between the two countries. He said that most of the issues are taking long to get through because of the financial constraints and Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdur Razzak Dawood has now been tasked to take the lead. Iranian delegation will be coming to Pakistan and meetings of Joint Committee on Trade and Joint Economic Commission will be held to work on the bilateral issues. He said that the recent high level visit has been a singular success where there has been a straightforward affirmation to have a work around to all the issues.
Members of the friendship group assured the Ambassador that the issues apprised about will be taken up by utilising all available instruments in the Senate and the forum of this group and the Senate as a whole will be fruitful to resolve the pending issues.
Convener of the group remarked that there is no second opinion that the US sanctions are highly unreasonable. He said that the matters raised by the ambassador about the gas pipeline, initiating airline service among others are valid and rational and will be taken up with the Foreign Minister, Finance Minister and other respective ministry either in the Senate House or in the relevant committees or at the level of the friendship group.
Both sides agreed that a healthy and strong relationship with Iran is not just needed for Iran in this time of history but is also highly beneficial for Pakistan and Pakistan will always be there in support of Iran as a brother Islamic state and as a friendly neighbour. It was agreed to have periodic meetings between both Parliaments with members from both sides coming in to discuss pending issues and share experiences.
Issues of Iran Pakistan Gas Pipeline, barter trade, Rail / air connectivity, US sanctions and their implications, CPEC importance for both countries, ferry service between Gwadar and Chabahar and need to promote Muslim unity came under discussion. The group agreed to further promote bilateral parliamentary ties to remove all irritants. Iranian Ambassador lauded the desire of the friendship group for Muslim unity and said Iran was fully ready to cooperate in any effort for normalisation of their relations with Saudi Arabia.