ISLAMABAD: In a sign of growing defence ties, Pakistani and Iranian militaries on Wednesday agreed on training exchanges and enhanced counterterrorism cooperation.
The understanding was reached during a meeting between Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Bajwa and visiting Iranian Chief of General Staff Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri at the General Headquarters. The two commanders held one-on-one talks that were followed by a delegation-level meeting.
Discussions, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, covered a wide range of issues including the situation in Afghanistan, regional security and border management particularly fencing along Pak-Iran border. Bilateral defence cooperation was also discussed.
“Both agreed on further enhancing defence cooperation and working together for regional peace and unified response to terrorism which is a common enemy,” the ISPR explained.
Iranian commander also meets PM, chairman of JCSC
The statement noted Gen Bagheri’s desire for expansion of military-to-military ties, specifically in counterterrorism and training domains.
The Iranian commander had in an interview with IRNA, the Iranian newswire, said soon after his arrival in Pakistan that military and defence relations between the two countries had grown over the years. He had expressed the hope they would expand further.
Gen Bagheri, the ISPR said, was briefed on training regime of Pakistan Army, its collaborations with friendly countries and holding of joint drills.
Ties between the two neighbours in the past remained marred by deep mistrust because of their divergent geo-political alignments, but relations have significantly improved during Gen Bajwa’s tenure and the progress is reflected in improved border security situation.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Nadeem Raza and Gen Bagheri, in another meeting, underscored that common borders should be ‘Borders of Peace & Friendship’, the ISPR said after their meeting at the Joint Staff Headquarters.
The two discussed bilateral defence and security cooperation, counter-terrorism efforts and regional environment particularly in the context of Afghanistan.
“They dilated upon measures to enhance the level and scope of military engagements between both countries and pledged to continue to forge deeper ties,” the ISPR said.
Gen Raza said Gen Bagheri’s visit “marks a new stage in strengthening the military, defense and security relations between the two brotherly countries.”
Calls on premier
The Iranian commander later called on Prime Minister Imran Khan who discussed the importance of regional stability.
Mr Khan described Pakistan-Iran border as a border of ‘Peace and Friendship’, according to a PM Office statement.
The prime minister also underlined the importance of steps taken for enhanced security on both sides and shared Pakistan’s perspective on the latest developments in Afghanistan. He stressed that as neighbours of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran had direct stake in peace and stability in the country.
He also laid emphasis on continued close coordination between Pakistan and Iran, including through the platform of six neighbouring countries of Afghanistan established last month.
Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2021