Islamabad - Experts believe Iran’s framework agreement with six world powers on its nuclear programme represents a major opening for Pakistan to benefit from the new opportunities that would emerge once the Iranian economy is unshackled.

The experts, while speaking at a seminar on the framework agreement between Iran and P5+1, consisting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, China, France, Britain, and the US) plus Germany, on Wednesday further dispelled the fears that the West after restraining the Iranian programme would once again start targeting Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), an Islamabad-based think tank, organized the seminar. AMB (retd) Tariq Osman Hyder, who discussed the technical aspects of the framework agreement and its implications for Pakistan and the region, said Pakistan needed to be serious about seizing this opportunity. “There is definitely a big opportunity, Iran is a big market,” he observed.

Ambassador Hyder described the agreement as a win-win deal for Iran and the west led by the US. Iran, he pointed out, wanted the right to enrich Uranium and it has got that though a restricted one. The west, meanwhile, wanted to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and has made it to give up Plutonium route, he added.

“Iran’s ability to go nuclear and add to nuclear enrichment has been curtailed,” he said. He, however, saw strong challenges to the finalization of the deal by June 30 deadline.

In a reference to media reports that Pakistan’s nuclear program could be next in line after the West restrained Iran’s program, Hyder said there would be no complications for Pakistan, since it is a non-NPT state.

Speaking on this occasion, President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said Pakistan has always strongly defended its national interests and no compromises were made on the nuclear program. Hence, he maintained, there should be no worries.

On the issue of ties with Iran, Dr Cheema said it remains to be seen how far can this relationship, which has been deteriorating since Ziaul Haq’s days, be salvaged.

Recalling that Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan as an independent state and later helped it in the war with India and quelling the Baloch revolt in 1970s, he emphasized on improving relations with Tehran.

Former Defence Secretary Asif Yasin Malik said that issues in Pak-Iran relationship should have been addressed long ago. “It is inappropriate to be seen as working to improve our relations with Iran just because West has had a deal with Tehran,” he said and added, “We have to be forthright in this relationship.”

Former ISI Chief Gen (retd) Asad Durrani reminded that Pakistan in the past resisted lot of pressures from the west for Iran’s sake. He opined that Islamabad had performed the task of balancing its ties with Gulf countries and Iran well.

Gen Durrani said the “environment had improved in favour of Iran and Saudi Arabia which was earlier nervous now appears to be panicking.”

Saudi Arabia, Gen Durrani said, is pushing Pakistan to get involved in Yemen project that is set to doom.

Foreign Policy Analyst Syed Baqir Sajjad called for revitalizing the relationship with Iran by strengthening economic and defence ties.

He called for a brainstorming on how Pakistan could benefit from the opportunities coming up because of likely deal over Iranian nuclear program.

Sajjad said that Iran being the most proximate oil and gas exporting country could have an important role in Pakistan’s energy security calculations.