Following Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s recent visit to Pakistan and the nearly $20 billion dollars in foreign investment that came with it, it is necessary that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government play a delicate balancing act with Tehran.
For this reason, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s telephonic agreement with Iran’s President Rouhani for increased regional cooperation between the two countries is a positive development. According to a statement released by the PM’s Office, an agreement was also reached for PM Khan to visit Iran in the near future, and it was stressed that there needs to be closer cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence agencies regarding cross-border terrorism. This has been especially important following the February 14 attack in Iran on an Iranian Revolutionary Guards bus which killed 27 people.
The Iran-Pakistan border is one of the most difficult to police in the world, making it a hotbed of terrorism and drug trafficking. This has often resulted in friction between the two countries. For example, in October last year, it was reported that around a dozen Iranian security personnel were kidnapped on the border along Balochistan, to which Iran responded by firing mortar shells into Pakistani territory. Luckily no casualties were reported, thus the situation did not escalate, but the two countries will not always be this lucky.
Therefore it is necessary to expedite a diplomatic process between Iran and Pakistan which would bring the two closer together and initiate cooperation in security efforts as well as other fields. *
Published in Daily Times, March 11th 2019.