ISLAMABAD - International Forum for Pakistani Columnists and Anchors (IFPCA) is a forum comprising of the best and brightest Pakistani anchors, columnist, bloggers and v-loggers having an objective to develop the finest professional practices in the country. IFPCA is established with an aim to develop strategies with leading Pakistani columnists, anchors, bloggers and v-loggers for the promotion of the soft image of Pakistan across the globe. IFPCA is aimed to promote positive image of the country through the medium of public diplomacy and narrative building. Another reason for the establishment of IFPCA is the sustainable development of the journalist community, especially the columnists, anchors, bloggers and v-loggers in order to realize their full potential for Pakistan. Through constructive engagement with the diplomatic missions of foreign countries in Pakistan and Pakistani mission abroad, government institutions, parliament and its committees, the IFPCA is meant to assist and provide the strategic advice and projection of Pakistan’s best interest and image across the globe. A series of interactions with diplomats in Pakistan has been started by the said forum. The IFPCA delegation visited the Iranian Embassy for interaction with Mehdi Honardoost, the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan. The delegation was warmly welcomed by the staff and ambassador Mehdi Honardoost and was briefed about the nature and history of Pak-Iran relations. Matters related to regional peace and mutual interests came under discussion during the interactive session. The ambassador was very clear and objective throughout his talk. “We will never allow anyone to misuse our territory against our brother Pakistan,” he said. The Iranian ambassador talked about a lot of Pak-Iran commonalities in the world and the region as well. Mehdi Honardoost answered numerous questions in an uncomplicated and comprehensive way. He said the lack of information among masses as well as officials is a big hurdle between Iran and Pakistan’s cordial relations.

  “By knowing the responsibilities of both sides, we can make our relations stronger and more prosperous,” he said. He said that Pakistan and Iran are like family members but the hidden powers are always in action to sabotage this brotherly relation. “Muslim Ummah is looking towards Pakistan and Iran to lead it out of the vulnerable conditions but we can do this when we are in long, uninterrupted and good relations,” Mehdi Honardoost said. The envoy shared that bilateral trade volume between the two states has reached up to $1.3 billion from $500 million in the past two years. He said it can be multiplied many times with bilateral efforts and understanding. Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost added that the history of bilateral relations is free of any conflict or tension that shows the natural friendship and understand between both the states. Ambassador talked about the importance of Media and its role. “There should be a linkage between Pak Iran journalist community to promote peace and to resolve misunderstanding,” he added. He said that there is nothing problematic in Pak-Iran relations and both countries can have more cooperative and useful relations.

  Talking about the importance of media, he raised the question that why are our youngsters looking towards Western societies for films and dramas. He talked about the Iranian advancement in Science and Technology and the possible markets that can generate thousands of jobs for youngsters on both sides of border. The diplomat said that Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has always stressed for enhanced ties with Pakistan. “We cannot leave ourselves on the mercy of our enemies, we have to do at our own,” said Mehdi Honardoost. He said that foreign forces are responsible for the worst circumstances in our region and other Muslim countries. “They are responsible for the crisis in Syria, Yemen and the other Muslim countries,” the diplomat said. “Our enemies are laughing at us and we are busy in our internal rifts,” he said.   The envoy expressed his sorrowful sentiments for Muslims Ummah and its regrettable conditions. “We have to answer Allah, how we will be able to respond Prophet PBUH about our roles and responsibilities about other Muslims,” he asked.  The diplomat said that the Muslim world has to rethink about its unity that can secure Muslims all around.

  Mehdi Honardoost also raised the question about why money from the pocket of Muslim countries flies to the pockets of Americans. “The Muslim world should increase its trade cooperation, so that we can avoid giving our money to US,” he added. “Iranian people do not like US and I am not optimistic about Iran-US relations because of the bullying approach of the US,” he said while replying a question. “Not a single part of science and technology is allowed to be imported in Iran, is this also a form of sanction,” he asked. The diplomat shared an interesting fact that Allama Iqbal is famous in Iran more than Pakistan. “People-to-people contact is more important than government-to-government contact,” he said. Mehdi Honardoost said that presence of Daesh in Afghanistan is a matter of great concern for both Iran and Pakistan. He said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a game changer and vital for regional development. The Iranian ambassador said Iran welcomes participation of any Arab country in the CPEC project. “Money earned by means of smuggling directly goes into the pockets of terrorists, we can control terrorism by controlling smuggling,” the diplomat said. A high-tea was arranged by the honourable ambassador at the end of the session and was followed by a group photo. The interactive session cleared my confusions regarding the brotherly neighbouring country Iran. The IFPCA delegation was lead by Muhammad Asif Noor accompanied by Farhat Asif, Sadia Kamal, Aqeel Ahmed Tareen, Sadruddin Sadar, Shafiq Mughal, Waqar Shah, Parishay Khan, Waqar Fani and Khawar Bhatti.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.