Pakistan and Iran on Wednesday agreed to further enhance bilateral defence cooperation and work together for regional peace and a unified response to terrorism, a common enemy to both countries.
The development came as Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the Iranian Armed Forces, held separate meetings with the civilian and military leadership.
During Major General Mohammad Bagheri’s meeting with the prime minister, several issues of bilateral interest, including the latest situation in Afghanistan came under discussion, according to the statements issued by the media wings of the military as well as the Prime Minister’s Office.
The prime minister emphasised the need for continued close coordination between Pakistan and Iran, including through the platform established last month by the six neighbouring countries of Afghanistan.
Imran stressed that both Pakistan and Iran had direct stakes in peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan wished to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan with a sustainable economy and promoting connectivity, Imran said, according to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office Media Wing.
Sharing Pakistan’s perspective on the latest developments in Afghanistan, the prime minister underscored that the international community must remain positively engaged, provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance, and take steps to prevent the economic collapse of the war-torn country.
He also stressed the need for unfreezing Afghanistan’s financial assets to help support the Afghan people at this critical juncture, especially before the onset of winter. He underscored the importance of national reconciliation and inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Imran welcomed the visiting dignitary and highlighted an upward trajectory in engagement between Pakistan and Iran. He underscored Pakistan’s commitment to enhance the close bilateral trade relations.
The prime minister recalled his meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Dushanbe on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, which had imparted further impetus to bilateral cooperation.
While describing the Pakistan-Iran border as a border of ‘peace and friendship’, the Prime Minister noted the agreement on the establishment of border sustenance markets and stressed that the operationalisation of these markets would facilitate livelihood in the region.
“The opening of two additional border crossing points in the last one year has further facilitated in regulating the movement on both sides,” he added. He appreciated Iran’s support on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
Meanwhile, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement that the top Iranian military officer, accompanied by a high-level delegation, visited the General Headquarters (GHQ), during which he also held a one-on-one meeting with the army chief.
On arrival, the Iranian CGS was presented guard of honour by a smartly turned-out contingent of the Pakistan Army. The visiting dignitary laid floral wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada and prayed for the Martyrs of Pakistan,” the ISPR said.
A wide range of issues, including the Afghanistan situation, regional security, and border management particularly fencing along the Pakistan-Iran border was discussed during the meeting between the two officials.
“Pakistan and Iran are two brotherly countries and our close cooperation is vital for regional peace and stability,” Gen Qamar was quoted by the ISPR as saying in his meeting with Maj-Gen Bagheri. The Iranian CGS expressed his desire to further strengthen the bilateral military-to-military ties, particularly in counterterrorism and training domains.
During the delegation-level meeting, the visiting dignitary was given a comprehensive regional security appraisal and operational update, besides briefing on the training regime of the Pakistan Army, including collaboration with friendly countries and conduct of various joint military exercises.
Borders of friendship
Maj Gen Bagheri separately called on JCSC Chairman Gen Nadeem Raza at the Joint Staff Headquarters. The ISPR said that they deliberated on various areas of mutual interest, bilateral cooperation including defence and security, counterterrorism, and the regional environment with reference to Afghanistan.
They dilated upon measures to enhance the level and scope of military engagements between the two countries and pledged to continue to forge deeper ties. Both sides highlighted that common borders should be “borders of peace and friendship”.
Gen Nadeem said that in pursuit of closer military and strategic cooperation, both the countries shared a common perception on all national and international issues. He added that the visit of the top Iranian general marked a new stage in strengthening the bilateral military, defence, and security ties.
Maj-Gen Bagheri lauded the professionalism of the Pakistani armed forces and acknowledged their sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. Earlier, upon arrival at Joint Staff Headquarters, a smartly turned-out tri-services contingent presented ‘guard of honour’ to the visiting dignitary, the ISPR said.