Pak Iran Relations: Time calls for new beginning!

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Author: Mr. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, sahbizadayes@gmail.com

Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan share strong historical relations. Both are the countries where religion holds a significant sway in the realm of politics and governance. Pakistan was the first country in the world to recognize the newly formed Islamic republic of Iran in 1979 after a successful revolution staged by Imam Khomeini that changed the political and social discourse in the country. The world had it hard to absorb the Idea of recognizing a revolutionary Iran but Pakistan knowing its importance and the brotherly sentiments that both nations shared for each other took no time in recognizing the newly formed regime.

Pakistan and Iran also share a similar history of being affected by the troubles of great power game during the period of cold war. The political set-up in Iran had remained subject to frequent disruption, quest for power and a general turmoil following a series of foreign interventions. The struggles of Iran and later its emergence from that greatly shows the resolve of the nation. It also showcases their commitment to the idea of sovereignty. It’s past experience not only allowed Iran to claim their mantle as an independent nation but also aided their bid for self-sustainability and perseverance in the face of harsh sanctions inflicted by the world powers.

Similarly, Pakistan’s experience has also been a like one. It has heralded political disturbances and foreign influence that finally led it to join the war on terror in Afghanistan. The consequences of which are still being borne by the country. However, Pakistan and Iran, both have fair opportunity to learn from each other’s complex experiences. For instance, Pakistan can learn to adopt the policy of self-sustainability and cut short its over-reliance on imported commodities vis-à-vis Iran can learn from Pakistan’s advancement in defense technology and its war experiences. Successful projects in aeronautical engineering and sophisticated weaponry augur better prospects for future engagements. Pakistan can also welcome Iran to its landmark CPEC project thereby stressing on the need to operate multi-dimensional economic facilities jointly.

The diplomatic handling of Kashmir Issue is one such area. This shows how Pakistan has tried to avert military standoff with India and has instead given value to dialogue and talks with the nuclear rival neighbor. In a like manner, Iran and Saudi Arabia could move together for the cessation of hostilities in the wider interest of the Muslim Ummah.

Moreover, there are many other areas of potential cooperation that can help Iran and Pakistan to enter new partnerships and seek solution to their internal problems. For example, Iran’s vast energy products can be availed through means of diplomacy by reaching some settlement in negation of the international sanctions levied on Iran. The way European countries, China, North Korean, African Countries and even India are doing. This would allow Pakistan to fulfill its energy demands in much cost-effective way. For that the revival of Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline is the most ostensible need of the day.

Additionally, Iran’s performance in academia and medical sciences has also been phenomenal. It is becoming a new top destination for pursuing graduate courses in various disciplines ranging from life sciences to information technology. As of recent, 57,657 students from 133 countries are studying in Iran with little costs incurred on academics and accommodation. Pakistan can use this opportunity to send as many students as it can to Iran on state scholarship for learning practical sciences while also inviting Iranian academia to be part of Pakistan’s educational framework and indeed for taking their input for the development of this important sector.

More so, the primary health care system adopted by Iran 1997 successfully caters to the health related needs of 90% of rural population alongside urban centers. The underprivileged people have complete access to the modern health facilities by virtue of this scheme adopted decades ago. More surprisingly, 97% of medical drugs are home produced in Iran.

Pakistan’s health care system is under-developed, ill resourced and poorly planned. The government can invite Iranian health experts to draft proposals for revamping the healthcare systems of Pakistan.

These areas pose wide ranging potential opportunities for both the countries to engage with each other. Successfully working upon them may alter the future of South Asia and bring long lasting respite to the struggling population of the region that is under a great economic burden. If Pakistan is serious enough in taking advantage from these areas of mutual benefit it could certainly make transition towards self-sufficiency in many crucial areas. The headache of foreign deficits will sour and the economy will gear up for real growth. Time is to rethink strategic priorities.

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