Prime Minister’s Iran visit
Prime Minister Imran in his visit of Iran met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and discussed the matters of cross border terrorism, bilateral trade and prospect of completion of Pakistan-Iran gas pipl.ine. The visit took place in the aftermath of Ormara terror attack, the responsibility of which has been accepted by an alliance of Baloch terrorist groups BRAS. Pakistan had lodged strong protest with Iran on the lack of action against terrorist groups using the soil of Iran and foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Querishi had informed his Iranian counterpart Jawad Zareef about the operational training camp of this organisation in Iranian Baluchistan.
India has a Consulate in Zahidan and doing trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian States through Chahbahar seaport. The high profile RAW agent Kalboshan Jadhev had been working as undercover agent in the shape of businessman there with the name of Mubarak Patael. He was arrested in Baluchistan and had made confessional statement of masterminding terrorists’ attacks in Pakistan. The Ormara massacre must be work of Indian agencies create tension between two Muslim neighbour countries few days before the visit of Prime Minister. The leadership of two countries has now agreed to set up Joint Rapid Reaction Force to watch and ward the common border and curb terrorism in border areas. India and the United States have shown open hostility to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. The western rout of the project ends at Gawadar deep sea port in Baluchistan.
Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project had hit snags because of international economic sanctions slapped on Iran which were then lifted after the Iran’s Nuclear Deal. US President Donald Trump again imposed sanctions on Iran last year. However, its western allies did not support this decision and is doing trade with it. Other world powers Russia and China and even India have rejected the US sanctions on Iran. The Prime Minister has also discussed the prospects of completion of the stalled gas pipeline project. Iran has already completed the construction work on its soil. Before starting the construction work on the project inside Pakistan, it would be worth while the Nitti Gritty of the agreement, particularly the gas tariff, agreed in the previous PPP government is re-examined if shady and high tariff LNG deal of PML-N government with Qatar is any guide.
The quantum of bilateral trade between the two countries is very small. India is doing billions of dollars of trade with Iran through open ended exchange regime of free convertibility of the currencies of two countries. But on the contrary Pakistan is doing bilateral trade in the US dollars. Moreover, neither Pakistani banks have their branches in Iran nor the branches of Iranian banks operate in Pakistan. For facilitation of bilateral trade banking channels must be operative in both countries. Hopefully, cooperation between the two countries in different areas will grow on fast track.