Panel Discussion 01/11/2016
An Iranian delegation consisting of five members including Dr Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour, Deputy Foreign Minister and Head, Centre for International Research and Education, Amb. Mir Mahmoud Mousavi, Former Ambassador to Pakistan and India, Mr Alireza Khoda Gholipour, Director Asian Studies IPIS Iran, Mr Hosseini, Deputy Director II, West Asia Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dr Gholamali Chegnizade, Professor, Faculty of Law and Political Science, Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran visited IPRI on August 09, 2016. Mr Khurram Abbas gave a presentation on “Pakistan’s Efforts on Counter Terrorism” which was followed by the discussion on the issues of Pakistan-Iran relations, situation in Afghanistan and regional security between the IPRI scholars and delegation members. Institute for Political and Regional Studies (IPIS) is an Iranian research institute focusing primarily on regional and international studies.
Salient points of the meeting are:
Presentation by IPRI Scholar:
Pakistan’s Efforts on Counter Terrorism:
- Khurram Abbas, IPRI scholar presented his views on ‘Pakistan’s Efforts on Counter-Terrorism.’ It was stated that terrorism and extremism are a constant threat to the stability and peace of South Asia. Pakistan’s national resolve against terrorism is appreciated globally for its sacrifices and continuous efforts against this menace.
- Pakistan has employed a two pronged strategy to fight terrorism i.e. by launching military operations (such as Operation Rah-e-Rast, Rah-e-Nijat and Zarb-e-Azb) to clear the terrorists pockets and use of soft approach to engage local community through social sector development simultaneously. As a result of Pakistan’s offensive strategy a visible decrease in terrorists attacks has been observed since June 2014. However, as part of the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction, it is important to bring the people of affected areas into the mainstream through socio-economic initiatives.
- As terrorism is pronounced to be a global threat, Pakistan considers that extremism and terrorism should not be linked with any religion, nationality or civilization and it requires a collective plan of action. Unresolved conflicts including the Kashmir dispute, Palestinian conflict, racial prejudice and discrimination, political marginalization, and exclusion from socio-economic development based on ethnicity, nationality, gender, and religion or beliefs are the major factors of terrorism and extremism.
- Pakistan’s continuous efforts and sacrifices against the global threat of terrorism were acknowledged and appreciated by the Iranian delegation.
Discussion by Iranian Scholars:
Iranian delegation discussed the status of bilateral relations between Iran and Pakistan, issues of regional security and situation in Afghanistan.
Pakistan and Iran’s Perceptions on the Situation in Afghanistan:
- On the Afghan situation, Iranian delegation said that Afghan Taliban is a reality and no peace can be achieved by excluding them. The difference of perceptions and mindsets among stakeholders has let confusion to prevail, thus sabotaging peace process. However, Afghan government and stakeholders must take decisions that are helpful in streamlining the domestic politics in Afghanistan. It was recommended that there is a need for a long term plan to be followed step by step in order to deal with the Afghan situation. All regional stakeholders must cooperate with each other in order to avoid any external interference.
- In response to their views, IPRI scholars said that a consensus exists in Pakistan on the solution of Afghan situation i.e. sustenance of peace. Pakistan being a neighbour of Afghanistan has been the main stakeholder in the peace process. Pakistan wants Afghan reconciliation with participation of all Afghan ethnic groups. Also, Pakistan has reiterated the fact that peace process in Afghanistan should be Afghan led and Afghan owned. While Pakistan cannot compel the Taliban for participation in the dialogue; it will make consistent efforts to facilitate intra-Afghan talks.
Regional Conflicts and Security: The Case of Pak-India relations and Kashmir
- Mr Mousavi, Former Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan and India said that with the new elected governments in India and Pakistan, it was hoped that a resumed process of negotiations would help both states resolve Kashmir and other issues. However it did not turn out to be so. Both countries relations are again beset with tensions.
- Mr Mousavi suggested that Track II diplomacy should be resumed between India and Pakistan. Joint meetings between government officials of both states should be scheduled on regular basis with the agenda to reach a plan for regional security. Apart from the UN, Pakistan should also engage other International partners such as OIC, humanitarian groups in the US and Europe to project the case of Kashmir.
- Chegnizade said that Pakistan and Iran should be working together to enhance regional cooperation as it serves the national interests of both states. Both states must work with the better realization of each other’s security concerns and interests. Better mutual understanding between Pakistan and Iran would help to build narratives on issues of global interest and international politics at regional level.
- Chegnizade also proposed research and academic cooperation on the issues of radicalization, extremism and terrorism as these are the challenges of modern world. Also, this effort will help in creating awareness at both regional and global level.
- Pakistan and Iran should outline the strategy to operationalize the proposed sister-port status of Gawadar and Chabahar in order to enhance connectivity. The proposed Chabahar-Gwadar MoU which includes cooperation on border trade, ferry services, shipping lanes and initiation of Iran-Gawadar flights may be executed.
- Pakistan and Iran should work on the execution of proposed energy and infrastructure ventures such as the IP pipeline and Iran-Pakistan 1000 MW electricity project in order to meet the energy requirements of Pakistan
- Pakistan and Iran should outline a mechanism of border surveillance and monitoring to address the issues of human trafficking, drug smuggling and terrorism.
- There should be sharing of literature on the issues of strategic interest and international politics between think tanks and research organizations of both the countries, to ensure informed exchange of views.
- There should be exchange visits of academicians and research professionals between the two countries to facilitate better interstate relations. Increased people-to-people contacts would help both the countries in further deepening the bilateral relations.