The Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan Imran Khan is on an official visit of Iran. The bilateral ties between the two neighbour Muslim countries have seen many ups and downs in history. Geo-strategic considerations and interests of both sides have made the two countries suspicious of each other especially post the Iranian revolution. However, the two sides witnessed a thaw in their bilateral ties, though momentarily, after Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff visited Iran in November 2017. While the visit was hailed as a hallmark of a new era of cooperation between the two sides, nothing of much significance came out from that tour.

Now just days before PM’s visit to Iran, an ugly attack in Balochistan’s coastal town Ormara resulted in the loss of fourteen innocent lives. Pakistan believes that the group responsible for the attack Baloch Raaji-Aajohi-e-Sangar (BRAS) has its logistics camps inside the Iranian border area. Hardly a day before PM’s visit to Iran, Pakistan asking Iranian authorities to take action against the group can add up to the awkwardness in the meeting between Imran Khan and the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Hardly a month and a half ago, the Pakistani Prime Minister in a telephonic conversation with Mr Rouhani acknowledged the need to strengthened bilateral ties. The perpetrators of the Ormara attack were well aware of Mr Khan’s visit to Iran. Therefore, they chose the timing and place of attack very carefully to strain the ties between the two sides.

It is vital to keep it in mind that, even before the Ormara attack, many other attacks had targeted security personnel of one of the two sides. These attacks successfully sowed seeds of distrust between the two. Only time will tell if the two leaders will fall for the plots of the terrorist groups or if they will agree on the need for closer cooperation among the law enforcement agencies of both countries to curtail such terrorist actions.

Arguably, in the aftermath of the Ormara attack, it is natural to predict that security issues will dominate the meeting between the leaders of the two countries. However, both leaders need to deliberate on other issues of mutual interests like enhancing business between the two neighbours, cultural exchanges that will strengthen people to people contacts; as such activities will prove helpful in fostering close ties between the two states. Nevertheless, whether the visit of PM Khan will bring the nations closer than ever before or not is contingent upon the meeting of Mr Khan with Mr Rouhani.