Islamabad - A strong support exists in Tehran for stronger and cooperative relations with Pakistan, said an Iranian scholar Dr Sadollah Zarei here on Saturday.

“Iran believes that a secure Pakistan would make Iran more secure,” Dr Zarei, who heads Iranian think-tank ‘Andishe Saza-e-Noor’, said while delivering a lecture on ‘Prospects of Pakistan-Iran Cooperation for Regional Peace and Security’ at Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI).

He said there could be many elements of stronger ties between Pakistan and Iran, but the most important plank was the much needed bilateral security cooperation. He warned that absence of security cooperation could lead to further insecurity and instability in the region.  The Iranian scholar underscored that both sides need to show flexibility to overcome the minor problems in their relations.

He warned against the presence of continued external forces in the region and said that they had given nothing to countries here except for chaos and violence.

Dr Zarei believed that need for cooperation between Pakistan and Iran had increased after US President Donald Trump’s new policy for the region. He noted that US was wrong to accuse Pakistan of allegedly sponsoring terrorist elements. It was rather the Americans that were benefitting from the situation, he insisted.

Chairman National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, who presided over the session, said, “Both countries (Iran and Pakistan) are consulting on regional peace and security with a focus on Afghanistan in keeping with their strong commitment to peace, stability and progress in Afghanistan.”

He observed that there was strong determination in both capitals to deepen mutual understanding, increase cooperation and scale up Pak-Iran relations. “Efforts being made to improve border management are a concrete manifestation of this forward-looking approach step. Moreover, both countries are working on long-term projects that will increase the scope of economic relations,” he added.

Bakhtyar maintained that projects like Pak-Iran gas pipeline, supply of electricity from Iran, start of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, reactivation of Pak-Iran Business Council, opening of additional international border and establishment of border markets could be tangible steps for revitalizing Pak-Iran economic relations.

IPI Executive Director Prof Sajjad Bokhari, speaking on this occasion, also emphasized on the need for greater cooperation for dealing with threats to regional peace including the emerging threat of Daesh.  Member Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Senator Farhatullah Babar said that continued diplomatic engagement was necessary to bring down mutual distrust. 

ANP Leader Senator Afrasiab Khattak spoke about the strength of people to people relations in Pak-Iran ties and said they were independent of the governmental relations.  President Ummat-e Wahida Allama Amin Shaheedi said fighting terrorism was in the mutual interest of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan and said it formed a common agenda for the promotion of relations.