Shehbaz, Raisi electrify ties with power, trade plans

Published May 19, 2023
Iranian President Dr Ebrahim Raisi shakes hands with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at Mand-Pishin joint border market, on Thursday. —APP
Iranian President Dr Ebrahim Raisi shakes hands with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at Mand-Pishin joint border market, on Thursday. —APP

• Tehran to supply 100MW electricity to Gwadar
• First of six border markets inaugurated
• PM hopes two projects will lead to greater cooperation
• Both sides agree to speed up work on free trade accord

MAND-PISHIN (Pakistan-Iran Border): Top leaders of Pakistan and Iran inaugurated the first border market and an electricity transmission line on Thursday as relations warm between the two countries.

Located in the remote village of Balochistan’s Mand town, the marketplace is the first of six to be constructed along the Pakistan-Iran border under a 2012 agreement signed by the two sides.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also inaugurated the Gabd-Polan power transmission line, under which Iran will supply 100 megawatts of electricity daily to Gwadar.

State-run APP reported that the line would play a pivotal role in meeting the energy needs of the region — including households and businesses — by bringing in additional electricity from Iran.

In an interview with Iran’s official news agency IRNA, the premier stressed the importance of enhanced cooperation with Tehran, saying the energy projects and border markets showed how vital friendship was between the two countries.

The prime minister said Pakistan and Iran were brotherly countries bound by deep-rooted religious, cultural, and linguistic ties. “Both our governments are collaborating closely for the betterment and socio-economic uplift of our peoples,” he said.

Mr Sharif said the Mand-Pishin border marketplace and the Gabd-Polan electricity project were “tangible manifestations” of this resolve. They would also serve as a stepping stone for greater cooperation between the two countries, especially economic one, he added.

According to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, the project had been pending since 2009 and was now completed in a record time of four months.

She expressed a hope the project would unleash development, trade, business and employment opportunities contributing to the prosperity of the people of Gwadar and the rest of Balochistan.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Power Minister Khurram Dastgir, Information Minister Aurangzeb, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo and senior officials of both countries were present at the inaugural ceremony of both projects.

Border markets

The Mand-Pishin border sustenance market is expected to increase trade with Iran, helping local businesses find new opportunities. This is one of the six border markets which will be constructed along the Iranian border.

Prime Minister Sharif and President Raisi also planted a sapling on the premises of the border market as a symbolic gesture to take the bilateral relationship to greater heights.

In the meeting, Mr Sharif, sitting next to Mr Raisi, assured him that Pakistan would do its best to improve security along the Iranian border. The prime minister extended an invitation to President Raisi, which he accepted.

The premier told the gathering that he had discussed solar energy cooperation between the two countries during his meeting with President Raisi earlier on Thursday. He said delegations from both sides would visit each other to work out solar energy projects.

In his address, Mr Raisi said Iran desired to enhance cooperation with Pakistan in the energy sector. He congratulated the government of Pakistan on completing the 100MW power transmission project that would create jobs for residents.

The Associated Press reported that Mr Raisi’s was the first visit of its kind since 2013, when the two nations signed an agreement allowing Pakistan to import Iranian gas. The agreement could not be implemented because of US sanctions on Iran.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2023

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