ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Iranian ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost Friday said that Iran’s Chabahar harbour was not a rival to Pakistan’s Gwadar port and stressed that both connectivity projects were in the interest of entire region.
At a talk with academicians hosted by Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), the Iranian ambassador dismissed the impression that the Chabahar pact recently signed by Iran, India and Afghanistan was against any other country and said the mega project would ensure peace and tranquility in the region.
Honardoost said Chabahar agreement was not limited to three countries only and offered Pakistan and China to join it.
He said after bearing 37 years of unfair sanctions, Chabahar was a “window of international cooperation” for Iran.
He said that Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline could prove as a “jumping board” for Pakistan due to cheaper price of gas.
He said that Iran, after constructing pipeline on its side with two billion dollar, was waiting for Pakistan to accelerate the project.
To a question on the recent drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour having valid Iranian visa, he said Iran had never been a supporter of Taliban.
“We never ever allowed Taliban and other militant groups to use Iranian soil,” adding that Iran openly opposed rise of Taliban even 16 years ago.
Honardoost said terrorism and drug trafficking were the major problems confronting Pakistan and Iran.
He said though 980-kilometre-long Pak-Iran border was the safer than other borders of Pakistan and termed it a border of “peace and brotherhood”.
To a question on Iran’s security wall built along Pakistan border, he dismissed the impression that it was to restrict the flow of Balochs from both sides.
He said instead, identity cards had been issued to Baloch tribesmen to move across borders without visa, however he said Iran could not ignore the dangers of narcotics gangs.
The Iranian ambassador said by rejecting negative propaganda and interference by super powers, the two great nations of Pakistan and Iran deserved better promotion of their relations on the basis of trade and economy.
The ambassador said that Pakistan and Iran having same religion, culture and faith had “mutual interests and concerns”.
“Any concern, interest of Pakistan is our concern and interest. There is no question, ambiguity on it,” he said.
“We believe that Pakistan and Iran should work faster for the future of the region,” he added.
On relations with India, he said Iran’s stance was clear that it never preferred any country over its neighbours, particularly Pakistan.
On relations with Saudi Arabia, he said both Iran welcomed any rapprochement and lauded the reconciliatory efforts of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for bringing Iran and Saudi Arabia closer.
Director General ISSI ambassador Masood Khan said it was encouraging that both Pakistan and Iran wanted to remove barriers and impediments restricting their closeness.
He said a proper dialogue mechanism could further promote relations between the two countries.
He said that Pakistan and Iran have “connective tissue” in shape of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.