ISLAMABAD: Pakis­tan and Iran on Wednesday declared their intention to enhance bilateral trade and collaborate more closely in the energy sector, despite US warning Islamabad against engaging with Iranian businesses.

“The two sides agreed to further expand trade and economic cooperation and affirmed their commitment to transform their common border from ‘border of peace’ to a ‘border of prosperity’,” stated a joint communique issued by the neighbouring countries at the end of Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi’s three-day visit to Pakistan.

Earlier during a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Raisi, the two leaders set a goal to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion over the next five years, up from the current volume of about $2.3bn.

The two countries are aiming to achieve this ambitious target through “setting up of joint border markets, economic free zones, and new border openings”, finalisation of Free Trade Agreement, and operationalising barter trade, according to the communi­que that also underscored the importa­nce of energy sector cooperation thro­ugh electricity trade, installation of power transmission lines and implementation of Iran-Pakistan pipeline project.

However, the US Department of State had on Tuesday issued a warning to the Pakistani government about entering into business deals with Iran. The US threats of sanctions are strategically designed to deter Pakistan from enhancing its economic ties with Iran.

Among other steps for boosting trade and economic cooperation, Pakistan and Iran agreed on early convening of Joint Business Trade Committee and the 22nd round of the negotiations of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC). Exc­h­­ange of economic and technical exp­erts and trade delegations, it was decided, would be facilitated.

“The declaration of ‘Reemdan border point’ as an international border crossing point under TIR and opening of the remaining two border sustenance markets was also agreed,” the communique read.

Pakistan and Iran expressed satisfaction with the progress in goods shipments under the TIR Convention, an international system designed to simplify and speed up road transport across borders. Both countries, it added, agreed on the importance of fully implementing the Convention to enhance efficient, swift, and unrestricted trade between them and to potentially promote regional integration and connectivity across the broader ECO region.

Islamabad and Tehran further agreed to strengthen “mutually beneficial and enduring linkages” between Gwadar and Chahbahar ports.

The two countries pledged to enhance cooperation to address challenges, including terrorism, narcotics, smuggling, and human trafficking.

The communique emphasised the importance of regular exchanges between political, military, and security officials, as well as cooperation through the utilisation of existing bilateral institutional mechanisms for combating terrorism. It stressed adherence to the principles of the UN Charter, particularly respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states while dealing with the terrorism problem.

Both sides advocated for resolving the Kashmir dispute through dialogue and peaceful means that reflect the will of the Kashmiri people, in accordance with international law.

Also, Islamabad and Tehran expre­ssed a forceful condemnation of the ongoing violence by the Israeli regime against Palestinians. They denounced the severe humanitarian impacts resulting from the blockade of Gaza, including extensive casualties and the displacement of millions. They called for an immediate ceasefire, unrestricted humanitarian access to Gaza, the return of displaced Palestinians, and accountability for the crimes committed by the Israeli regime. They reiterated their support for a just, comprehensive, and lasting resolution that aligns with the aspirations of the Palestinians.

Both Pakistan and Iran emphasised the threat that terrorist havens in Afghanistan pose to regional and global security. They expressed a commitment to intensify their collaborative efforts on counter-terrorism and security, aiming to establish a unified stance against terrorism threat from Afghanistan. Additionally, they acknowledged the importance of aligning regional and international initiatives to bolster security and regional stability.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

KP’s ‘power struggle’
Updated 21 Jun, 2024

KP’s ‘power struggle’

Instead of emboldening protesters, CM Gandapur should encourage his provincial subjects to clear their due bills and ensure theft is minimised.
Journalist’s murder
21 Jun, 2024

Journalist’s murder

ANOTHER name has been added to the list of journalists murdered in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Khalil Jibran’s vehicle...
A leaner government?
21 Jun, 2024

A leaner government?

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has reiterated his government’s ‘commitment’ to shutting down ministries...
Kindness needed
Updated 20 Jun, 2024

Kindness needed

This year’s World Refugee Day theme — solidarity with refugees — includes keeping our borders accessible and addressing the hurdles they face.
Fitch’s budget note
20 Jun, 2024

Fitch’s budget note

PAKISTAN’S ongoing economic crisis is multifaceted. At one end, the government must pursue stabilisation policies...
Cruelty to animals
20 Jun, 2024

Cruelty to animals

TWO recent incidents illustrate the immense cruelty many in this country subject voiceless animals to. In the first...