Raisi’s Visit Bolsters Pak-Iran ties By Naveed Aman Khan

Raisi’s Visit Bolsters Pak-Iran ties By Naveed Aman Khan

IRANIAN President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Islamabad amidst regional tensions with Israel coincides with a recent drone attack launched by Israel on Iran. The attack prompted the activation of Iran’s air defense missile system, which successfully intercepted and destroyed three drones near Isfahan on the morning of 19 April. Despite these tensions, Raisi’s three-day visit to Pakistan, including stops in Lahore and Karachi, has been warmly embraced by the Pakistani nation, signifying the potential for a new era of cooperation between Pakistan and Iran. In Karachi, Raisi will be honoured with an honorary doctorate degree, highlighting the significance of his visit.

Against this backdrop, Pakistan was cautiously monitoring the unfolding situation as any deterioration might persuade the Iranian President to postpone his visit to Pakistan. Senior authorities of both sides were in touch with each other about President Raisi’s visit to Pakistan. Both Pakistan and Iran need to cement bilateral ties and enhance the volume of trade. The Israeli drone attack on Iran will increase tension in the region. In the near future, the UN should stop Israel’s hostilities against Iran. The EU has demanded restraint from both Israel and Iran. A mounting tussle is not in anyone’s interest. Pakistan is keenly observing the situation.

Iran has denied any damage done by Israeli drone attacks. It was not a guided Israeli missile attack on Isfahan. The apparent Israel attack was symbolic and carried out with a lot of care to avoid any reaction from Iran. The US Secretary of State Anthony Blanken avoided confirming Israeli attack on Iran on the sidelines of the G7 meeting. He was informed about the attack at the last minute. The US didn’t provide more information about the attack. Jordan has indicated that it will remain neutral in Israel – Iran tension as no country wants to become a battlefield.

President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit follows an unprecedented border standoff earlier this year between Pakistan and Iran. The crisis began with Iranian missile strikes inside Pakistani territory, swiftly followed by retaliatory strikes from Pakistan. Tensions eased after high-level contacts were established, including a visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Both countries agreed to restore diplomatic relations and prevent future escalations. As a confidence-building measure, Iran conveyed that President Raisi would visit Pakistan after the February 8 elections.

With the Iran-Israel conflict and deepening Middle East crisis, the visit of the Iranian President is closely watched by the outside world. The US and western countries are advocating for greater sanctions against Iran and discussing new measures to isolate it further. Hosting the Iranian President is a test case for Pakistan, particularly as the US and its allies seek to pressure Iran.

The two sides during the visit of the Iranian President would discuss the January missile exchanges and measures to avoid such incidents in future. In order to boost bilateral cooperation, the two countries are expected to make a move on the long-delayed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. The Pakistani government recently approved the laying of a gas pipeline on its side of the border in a move that annoyed the US.

The project was initially slated for completion by December 2014, but fear of US economic sanctions deterred Pakistan from proceeding with the multibillion-dollar venture. Concerned about potential penalties from Iran, Pakistan opted to construct an 80-kilometer stretch from Gwadar to the Iranian border to mitigate risks. The US has consistently opposed the project, particularly after Pakistan’s recent efforts to import gas from Iran via a pipeline. Pakistan maintains that it is only laying a pipeline within its territory, and the question of importing gas will arise once the pipeline is connected to the Iranian network. Construction may take time, and Pakistan will evaluate the situation accordingly.

Pakistan is assessing the situation of Israeli attack on Iran also. Pakistan is naturally concerned over any escalation in the region. For months, Pakistan had underlined the urgency of international efforts to prevent the expansion of hostilities in the region and for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Instead of showing restraint and upholding international law, Israel has continued with its violation of international law. The irresponsible and reckless Israeli attack on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus on the first of April 2024 has further vitiated security in an already volatile region. The world reiterates its call on the UN Security Council to stop Israel from its adventurism in the region and to hold it to account for its violations of international law. The council should actively contribute to efforts for restoring and maintaining international peace and security.

—The writer is editor, book ambassador political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.

Email: naveedamankhan@hotmail.com

Source: https://pakobserver.net/raisis-visit-bolsters-pak-iran-ties/

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