IRAN’s Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan.—Online
IRAN’s Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan.—Online

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday offered coordinated security operations to Iran along the border to prevent terrorist activities.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, while talking to Iranian journalists at the end of his day-long visit to Islamabad, said: “Pakistani authorities have proposed coordinated operations [to pre-empt terrorist incidents in future]. There appears to be a consensus within Pakistan that such incidents should not be allowed to recur so that those elements opposed to relations between the two neighbouring Islamic countries cannot undermine them.”

Mr Zarif was here on an unscheduled trip to follow up on the discussions and the ongoing cooperation between the two countries for the recovery of Iranian border guards kidnapped by terrorists on Oct 16 from a post in Mirjaveh region close to the border with Balochistan province. Jaish al-Adl, a terrorist group operating in the region, had claimed responsibility for their kidnapping. Iranian leaders believe that the militants transferred the guards to Pakistan after taking them hostage.

The Iranian foreign minister, who met Prime Minister Imran Khan, his counterpart and host Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, looked satisfied with Pakistani efforts and said that “serious promises have been made to resolve the matter”. He described his discussions as “encouraging”.

Zarif meets PM, foreign minister and army chief to follow up on discussions for recovery of Iranian border guards

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said: “It was agreed to continue close consultations through the established multipronged mechanism between the two countries.”

Foreign Minister Qureshi reassured Mr Zarif that Pakistan would spare no effort to prevent such incidents in future.

Cross-border activities of terrorist groups have long remained a major cause of distrust in Pak-Iran ties. However, steps taken by Pakistan since 2017 to improve security along the border have helped improve the relationship.

There was no statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations on Gen Bajwa’s meeting with the Iranian foreign minister

Yemen war

Besides discussing the issue of abducted guards, Javad Zarif in his meetings with the Pakistani leadership also took up regional situation, particularly the war in Yemen and peace efforts in Afghanistan.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan offered mediation for ending the war in Yemen. The matter was also discussed with foreign minister and army chief so that the miseries of Yemenis could be ended,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

He said that there was a growing international chorus for ending war in Yemen and Pakistan could use the opportunity for playing its role for peace. He demanded an end to airstrikes by the Saudi Arab-led coalition in Yemen.

According to the Prime Minister Office, Mr Khan, who had originally offered mediation on Yemen on his return from his latest visit to Saudi Arabia, renewed the proposal, saying he could mediate “if all concerned parties agreed to this mediation”. The prime minister expressed concern over the disunity among Muslim countries, as well as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Responding to a question, Mr Zarif told the journalists that Iran would reciprocate if Saudi Arabia changed its regional policies. He denied reports of Riyadh having lately contacted the Iranian government.

The Iranian foreign minister said that prospects of Pak-Iran cooperation for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan were also discussed.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2018