TEHRAN/Islamabad - Pakistan and Iran on Monday agreed to boost security cooperation and set up a Joint Rapid Reaction Force to fight terrorism and guard the common border between the two countries.

Leadership of both the countries agreed also agreed to share intelligence and treat any group involved in inhuman activities on either side as terrorist, said a press releases issued in Tehran and Islamabad.

In the talks led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Iranain President Hassan Rauhani, Islamabad and Tehran also agreed to further strengthen bilateral trade and their economic ties.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Iranain President Hassan Rauhani, Prime Minister Imran Khan said both the countries would not allow terrorist activities from each other’s sides.

He said the security chiefs of the two countries would discuss ways of cooperation and expressed the hope that it would build confidence between the two countries to act jointly against terrorism.

Heading a delegation, Imran Khan was on his maiden two-day official visit to Iran at the invitation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to strengthen bilateral relations.

Decisions taken

Raising Joint Rapid Reaction Force to guard border areas and intelligence sharing

Railway line to connect Gwadar and Chabahar ports

Completion of gas pipeline to Pakistan

MoU signed for health sector cooperation

Iran shows willingness to tenfold electricity export to Pakistan

“This government [of PTI] in Pakistan for the first time is dismantling all militant groups in the country and this is not being done on some outside pressure. It is a decision made through consensus across the political spectrum that we will not allow our soil to be used by anyone against anyone,” the prime minister said.

In the last 12 to 13 years Pakistan has suffered a lot from terrorism where 70,000 of our people lost their lives in terrorist activities, he said. “We are much luckier than Afghanistan which despite NATO’s strength and Afghan security forces could not tackle militancy as Pakistan did.”

Imran Khan said few days back 14 of Pakistan security personnel were killed in Urmara area of Balochistan by terrorists [based across the border in Iran], adding that he knew Iran had also suffered from terrorism [originating from Pakistani soil].

He said that four decades of war in Afghanistan had affected both Pakistan and Iran. Peace in Afghanistan was in the interest of both the countries, he added.

“We will cooperate with each other in helping political settlement of Afghan issue as peace in the war torn country will help both Pakistan and Iran,” the prime minister said. Once there is peace, there would be trade in the region and it would bring prosperity to its people, he added.

Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was determined to strengthen bilateral ties with Pakistan and no third country could harm their brotherly relations. He said during talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan, they discussed bilateral, regional and international issues, and peace and security in Afghanistan.

The president said they particularly discussed the border security and agreed that any group involved in inhuman activities would be treated as terrorist. He said both the countries also agreed to share intelligence in border areas, and set up a Joint Rapid Reaction Force to fight terrorism and guard the common border.

Rouhani said the two sides also agreed to expand trade and commercial ties, and take necessary measures to complete the project of gas pipeline to Pakistan. Iran was also ready to increase electricity export to Pakistan tenfold, he added.

The president said import and export balance between the two countries could be ensured as both the sides had agreed to set up a Barter Committee to exchange goods. Significantly, he said Chahbahar and Gwadar ports would be connected through railways network to benefit the people of the two countries.

He said that Iran, Pakistan and Turkey were founders of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and therefore they were keen to revive railway line from Istanbul to Islamabad so that Europe could be connected with China through Iran and Turkey.

Earlier, Pakistan and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in the health sector. The MoU was signed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and Iranian Health Minister Dr Saeed Mamaki. PM Khan and President Rouhani witnessed the signing ceremony.



Imran on Palestine and Kashmir

About the Palestine issue, Khan said a great amount of injustice was being done to the Palestinians. The illegal occupation of Golan Heights by Israel, making Jerusalem its capital and violation of the international law would lead to further uncertainty in the Middle East.

Similarly, he said, the United Nations Security Council resolutions about Kashmir clearly say that the people of Kashmir shall be allowed to decide their own destiny. However, in the last 30 years the brute Indian forces were oppressing the Kashmiris.

He said over 70,000 people had been killed by the Indian occupation forces in the occupied valley but they have failed to subjugate them. The only way forward was dialogue and political settlement, he added.

Once the Kashmir issue is settled, the whole subcontinent would move forward, the prime minister said. Iran and the entire region would also benefit from it, he added. He said only justice would bring peace in the region and not the use of force.

The prime minister said his visit would be certainly a turning point to further strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran. He also extended invitation to President Rouhani to visit Pakistan which the latter accepted.

Imran Khan said in 1972 he saw a big difference between the rich and the poor in Iran but since yesterday (Sunday) he had seen that Iran had become a very egalitarian society and all that was possible due to the Iranian Revolution. The revolution he wanted to bring in New Pakistan was also meant to end the difference between the rich and the poor, he added.

Earlier, when Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the Saadabad Palace, an official welcome ceremony was held in his honour. President Hassan Rouhani received the prime minister. The two leaders also reviewed the guard of honour.



PM’s address to business community

Addressing the business community of Pakistan and Iran here on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said it was time that both Pakistan and Iran should find out ways and means to enhance their bilateral trade to exploit the existing potential.

He said the countries, which had been doing well in the economic sector like China, South East Asia and ASEAN nations, had a higher proportion of bilateral trade with their neighbouring countries. But unfortunately, Pakistan, Iran, India and Afghanistan had a very low proportion of bilateral trade with the neighbouring countries, he added.

He said Iran being a nation of 80 million people and Pakistan with 210 million population should have been big economies but due to variety of reasons the two countries had not been able to exploit the trade potential. Irrespective of the fact that Iran had been facing sanctions and Pakistan was also going through difficult period, the two countries should start developing bilateral trade, he added.

He told the business community that only 10 percent of rice was exported directly from Pakistan and the rest was done indirectly. He said given the prevailing situation, both the countries should start mulling to find out ways and means to enhance the bilateral trade.

The prime minister also shared his experience of visiting the shrine of Hazrat Imam Raza (AS) in Mashhad on Sunday. Later, the prime minister along with the his economic team responded to the questions from the audience.