Tehran proposes five-nation bloc to tackle regional issues

Updated February 05, 2020

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Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh with Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mohammad Ali Hosseini at the Finance Division on Tuesday. During their meeting, the adviser said Pakistan wanted to expand bilateral trade with Iran.—APP
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh with Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mohammad Ali Hosseini at the Finance Division on Tuesday. During their meeting, the adviser said Pakistan wanted to expand bilateral trade with Iran.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini on Tuesday proposed a new bloc comprising Russia, China and Turkey in addition to Pakistan and Iran for addressing regional issues and promoting cooperation among themselves.

Mr Hosseini was delivering a lecture at the Islamabad Strategic Studies Institute (ISSI) in connection with the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and upcoming 72nd anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties between Pakistan and Iran.

“Countries like Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Russia and China have the potential to form a new alliance for better future of the region,” the envoy said. He also urged closer cooperation between Islamabad and Tehran for addressing regional issues including the conflict in Afghanistan.

He sounded critical of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “Unfortunately, due to the role of some countries, this organisation has not been effective in addressing issues of the Islamic Ummah and taking positions in the support of Islamic cause,” he said in a reference to the ‘dysfunctional’ OIC.

Ambassador Hosseini suggests cooperation on Afghan peace, Gwadar-Chabahar rail link

Underscoring the urgency for addressing the issues facing Muslim countries, Mr Hosseini said the US and Israel were trying to dictate a new agenda to the Muslim world. “The Islamic world should not allow that main subjects like Palestine be removed from the working agenda of their conferences/ meetings,” he maintained while dismissing President Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ as the most despicable peace plan for the Middle East.

He suggested effective utilisation of other forums like D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) for enhancing multilateral economic cooperation.

On the bilateral front, Mr Hosseini called for removal of all types of “hurdles and problems” impeding their cooperation. He was apparently referring to the US sanctions that have been preventing the realisation of Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline, opening of banking channels, and expansion of trade. “The two countries have the capability to become complementary to each other in the economic affairs of the two countries,” he maintained.

Laying emphasis on the completion of the IP gas pipeline project, he said: “Utilisation of this project and its connection with the important project of the CPEC will be a game-changer and bring vast economic development in Pakistan and the region.”

About the border markets, the ambassador said as Iran and Pakistan had a long border market, setting up of border markets could play a major role in trade and economic development of the two countries.

“Establishment of a rail network between Gwadar and Chabahar and its link up to Europe and Central Asia through Iran will usher major economic development in the region,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020