ISLAMABAD: Iran on Thursday reiterated its de­­sire to join the China-Pakis­tan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and offered to commit its ‘full potential’ for the mega regional connectivity project.

“Iran is eager to join CPEC with its full capabilities, possibilities and abilities,” Iran’s Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost said while speaking at the Oxbridge Lecture here.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani first expressed interest in joining the CPEC during his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September last year.

China welcomed Iran’s interest and its envoy in Islamabad Sun Weidong has said that his country is awaiting Iranian inclusion in the project. Pakistan too has described it as a “good step”.

However, analysts fear that progress towards embracing Iran was being impeded by Pakistani concerns about Tehran’s close association with India and Saudi Arabia’s apprehensions about Iranian involvement in the project.

Mr Honardoost, while responding to a question, acknowledged that Pak-Iran ties were not at the “best point”. He attributed the problems to an ‘external element’ affecting the relationship and the two neighbours not fully comprehending each other’s point of view due to lack of information.

“We expect Pakistan to move forward. Trade should not be affected by other developments,” he said in a general comment.

The envoy, who candidly responded to several queries, parried a question about how Iran planned to collaborate in CPEC, while having partnership with India that is not only opposed to the project, but is believed to be involved in sabotaging it.

“It is not important if some country is not keen to join it,” he observed almost downplaying New Delhi’s opposition.

Iran, he stressed, could contribute significantly to CPEC.

He said Iran’s rich energy resources, well-developed transport infrastructure, and progress in other fields, including nanotechnology, would add to CPEC once it joins it.

Moreover, Mr Honardoost expected that some other countries could follow Iranian example and join CPEC after its entry.

“Iran believes our region should not be under the dark shadows of tensions and friction. We don’t look at CPEC as just a trade, business and economic project. It is about peace and tranquillity in the region. It could help address many issues in this region,” the envoy noted.

Talking about bilateral trade, Mr Honardoost said it had grown by about 30 per cent over the previous year and hoped that it would further increase when “other impediments are removed”. He expected progress by ‘Nauroze’, the start of Iranian year, which is in March.

The Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran, Allaudin Boroujerdi, also spoke on the occasion.

Mr Boroujerdi said Iran did not consider the Saudi-led military alliance as against it. Many countries included in the alliance, he noted, were friendly with Iran. He said Pakistan and Iran needed to “sit together” for resolving issues in their relationship.

Mr Boroujerdi earlier called on Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

The two sides discussed areas of mutual cooperation and agreed to further deepen bilateral ties with particular focus on trade and economic cooperation, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2017


Farewell Roosevelt Hotel
21 Jan 2021

Farewell Roosevelt Hotel

It is worth noting that massive plans have been upended and assets are now on the verge of being seized.
A horned dilemma
21 Jan 2021

A horned dilemma

Trump would rather ‘reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n’.
Violence & Afghan peace talks
Updated 20 Jan 2021

Violence & Afghan peace talks

Many of those killed in recent weeks have actively been campaigning against rampant violence and rising human rights violations


Updated 21 Jan 2021

Agosta kickbacks trial

A POLITICALLY significant trial opened in Paris yesterday. Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur is in the...
Updated 21 Jan 2021

Indian media scandal

Common sense, factual reporting and ethics are all chucked out the window in the maddening race for ratings, influence and power.
21 Jan 2021

Rising food prices

FOOD inflation continues to challenge the resolve of the government to control the prices of essential kitchen items...
Updated 20 Jan 2021

Broadsheet judgement

There are plenty of skeletons in the Broadsheet cupboard and they must be brought out into the open.
20 Jan 2021

Unequal justice

IT seems no one wants to testify against former SSP Malir, Rao Anwar. At least five prosecution witnesses, all ...
20 Jan 2021

Schools reopening

THE disruptive impact of Covid-19 on education will be felt for years to come. For countries like Pakistan, where...