LAHORE - Iranian religious scholar Dr Alireza Arafi said on Sunday that Pakistan and Iran had exceptional bilateral relations and they could help the Islamic world resolve contemporary issues.  Addressing a gathering of writers, columnists and journalists here, Arafi said the idea of an Islamic bloc in this region involves Pakistan, Iran and Turkey and this idea can be executed if genuine efforts are made by the two countries.

“The Islamic world consists of more than 50 countries, which have 70 percent of energy resources of the world with exceptionally fertile land and strategic depth, but unfortunately they are not united,” he said.  Commenting on global issued, he said, “Due to a lack of unity among Muslim countries we are unable to defend Palestine and Kashmir,” he said.

The event was organised by an NGO, Qalam Dost, at a hotel on Sunday and attended by a large number of people from all walks of life. Dr Alireza said that Iran successfully coped with the economic sanctions imposed by its enemies because Iran remained connected to its roots. “Iran has 4,000 religious seminaries and universities where five million students are enrolled. Two million students are enrolled in seminaries alone and interesting aspect it that 60 percent of students are girls,” he said while sharing facts about Iran’s education system.

He coined the term ‘Islamic Bazaar’ for Islamic countries where countries would share knowledge from all fields, including technology, to counter the collective challenges facing the Muslim world. Dr Alireza said Iran and Pakistan were two important pillars of the Islamic world.

“Islamic countries, especially Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, can play their role to set up a bloc but some individuals and movements in Islam are playing in the hands of the United States of America and even ask for friendship with Israel. This is the time that Islamic forces strive for an Islamic bloc to solve their problems,” he said.

He also shed light on the interpretations of Islam by the Western countries and by fundamentalist mindset and in his view both interpretations do not represent the true picture the Islam.

Dr Alireza holds multiple portfolios in Iran, including president of the International Centre for Islamic Sciences and a member of the board of trustees, president of the University Research Institute, Education Department, Imam Khomeini Institute, Research Council of Qom Seminary, Friday the City of Maybod, and Member of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. He expressed: “I am happy and honoured to visit Lahore, the city of poet of the East Allama Muhammad Iqbal.”