Pakistan and Iran have agreed to make joint efforts for peace and stability in the region, including Afghanistan, Radio Pakistan reported on Wednesday.
The understanding was reached during separate meetings in Islamabad between Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Zarif is currently visiting the country for talks on regional issues in addition to reviewing bilateral ties.
Welcoming Zarif at his office, Prime Minister Imran noted that Pakistan and Iran enjoyed close and cordial relations and said the two countries “must further strengthen bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit”, according to a series of tweets by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The premier said the two neighbours should place special emphasis on bilateral trade and economic relations and underscored the need to work closely for promoting peace, security and development in the region.
Reiterating that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, he highlighted Pakistan’s efforts towards facilitating peace and stability in Afghanistan, the tweets said.
Prime Minister Imran reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and “hoped that this historic opportunity would be seized by all Afghan parties to secure a political settlement”.
Peace in Afghanistan will be beneficial for the entire region as it will create new opportunities for trade and economic cooperation as well as regional connectivity, he added.
During the meeting, the prime minister extended condolences over the loss of lives in Iran due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sharing Pakistan’s experience to deal with the health crisis, he said the “smart lockdown” strategy and other measures taken by his government had led to a “significant containment of the pandemic in Pakistan”.
Zarif conveyed personal greetings and commitment of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to work closely with Prime Minister Imran for further strengthening bilateral cooperation in diverse fields. “He also reaffirmed Iran’s steadfast support for the Kashmir cause,” according to the PM Office.
Concern expressed over Islamophobia
Zarif earlier held a meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi, who said that Pakistan and Iran can benefit from regional and other important forums for promoting cooperation in bilateral trade, investment, security and other areas of mutual interest, the Radio Pakistan report said.
He added that durable peace in Afghanistan is imperative for peace and stability in the region. He said the Afghan leadership had a unique opportunity in the form of intra-Afghan dialogue and urged them to not let it go.
The two foreign ministers also expressed concern over rising Islamophobia in some European countries and made it clear that a blasphemous attitude, under the guise of freedom of expression, is not acceptable at all.
During the meeting, the ministers exchanged views on bilateral relations, promoting bilateral cooperation in diverse fields and the coronavirus pandemic. They also discussed better border management, promotion of mutual contacts and provision of better facilities to Zaireen.
Expressing grief and sorrow over Covid-19 deaths in Iran, Qureshi appreciated the Iranian government’s efforts to control spread of the pandemic. He also apprised his Iranian counterpart of Indian atrocities and gross human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.
In a tweet after the meeting, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that he looked forward to “the further growth of close bilateral cooperation across a diversity of fields” between Iran and Pakistan.
Zarif arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday on a two-day visit which the foreign ministry said would help in deepening bilateral cooperation and developing a better understanding of each other’s perspective on regional issues.
He was accompanied by senior officials, including Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan Mohammad Ibrahim Taheriyan. He was also scheduled to meet Speaker of National Assembly Asad Qaiser and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa during his stay in Islamabad.
It is Zarif’s fourth visit to Pakistan over the last two-and-a-half years.