Pakistan’s role for regional peace crucial: Iranian Envoy

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini on Thursday reminded that tensions in the Middle East continue unabated and called for renewal of peace efforts.

Delivering a lecture at Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI), a local think tank, on ‘Pak-Iran Peace and Security Cooperation’, Hosseini said that Pakistan had a vital role for maintenance of regional peace and stability. He welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts for de-escalation of tensions in the region.

“There are clear signs of the fact that the regional circumstances are not improving”, the ambassador said.

He contended that the tense situation was a result of external interference in the region, misperceptions, and miscalculations.

“This cognitive impairment and miscalculations resulted in current crisis in the region,” he asserted.

The situation, he said, had been exacerbated by lack of dialogue and absence of a structured engagement in the region.

“What the region needs more than ever, is an across the board and comprehensive dialogue,” Ambassador Hosseini said.

He recalled that Iran’s President, Hasan Rouhani had last year proposed a regional cooperation mechanism called Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) for durable peace throughout the region.

The plan, he said, envisaged countering sectarian strife and tackling current conflicts in peaceful manner through dialogue and cooperation.

He said ‘HOPE’ could help eliminate terrorism and extremism; realize vision of security for all; ensure respect for sovereignty of the countries and their integrity; contain threats and violence; and end external inferences in internal affairs of the countries in the region.

“Iran wants solutions and all the regional countries should be the axis of peaceful and diplomatic solutions” for the various conflicts afflicting the region, he said.

Ambassador Hosseini said Iran believes in “security for all”, but for realization of the vision of an all-encompassing peace, all sides will have to take “clear steps”. Iran on its part, he said, was ready for dialogue with Riyadh.

“Although there has been no positive response from Saudi Arabia as yet, but we have not lost hope,” he stated.

He said that Tehran saw Pakistan’s role for regional peace as a “very important” one. Pakistan, he said, had been “a good ally” in both good and bad times.

“Tehran attaches high value to brotherly country of Pakistan,” he added.

He said PM Imran Khan was “sincerely” trying to improve bilateral relations. His efforts, he said, brought the two countries closer.

He said security forces of the both countries were cooperating for border security and the situation was much better now.

Iran, he said, was ready to join CPEC. He called for finding ways to deal with the sanctions and restrictions on Iran for expanding economic cooperation.

About the assassination of senior Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani by the United States, Ambassador Hosseini said that USA by committing this act had once again proven that it not only had the slightest respect and care for human and ethical values, but also saw no obligation to legal and international rules and laws.

Former Defense Secretary Lt Gen (r) Asif Yasin Malik asked Iran to remain vigilant of India and the Hindu mindset there. India, he said, had no love lost for the Muslims.

Executive Director IPI Prof Sajjad Bokhari, on this occasion, said that Pak-Iran ties had been impacted by the regional and the geo-political environment. Citing examples of Pakistan staying out of Yemen War and offering mediation on multiple occasions, he observed that the two sides had importantly collaborated for peace in the past.

He suggested that the existing bilateral cooperation for peace and security could be further strengthened by working together for a regional security arrangement that could bring together all regional players and under which they could work together to address their security concerns.

The first step in the direction, he noted would be to develop strategic convergence and build trust.