There are always some countries in different parts ofthe world, at a given time, which have exemplary and proverbial relations with one another. However, that does not mean that those countries, despite their excellent relations, do not have such periods in which they do not have minor, or for that matter, even major problems between them.
However, important to be noted is that all such countries have a basic framework and understanding to overcome any difficulties that might arise in their relations at any point and time in their respective histories. Indeed, relations between the states of the world are basically based upon the mutuality oftheir common national interests rather than the conflictuality of concerns. And where the national interests of any two countries coincide more than they collide, their relations founded on various elements and factors, are much more firmly rooted than between any other set of two or more countries having not so much of the commonality oftheir bilateral, regional and international interests.
Pakistan and Iran are two such countries which have, in the last fifty five years, maintained fairly good relations, slight ups and downs, somewhere sometimes, notwithstanding. Dr. Mujtaba Razvi, in his classic work - The Frontiers of Pakistan writes that, "almost without exception, Pakistan has enjoyed very cordial relations with Iran since its inception on 14 August 1947. Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan as an independent State, and the Shahin shah ofIran was the first Head of State to come on a State visit to Pakistan in March 1950".1
To be more clear, it was none other than Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, who was the architect of the policy that Pakistan was to pursue with regard to Iran, its closest Muslim neighbour. In a letter written to his cabinet colleague, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan, the Quaid-i-Azam dwelled at length on the importance of fostering cordial relations with Iran in particular and the Muslim world in general. In this connection Quaid-i-Azam pointed out with great vision that Pakistan could look forward to a genuine and lasting relationship with Iran for which he named Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan as Pakistan's first ambassador to Iran with a directive to forge fraternal ties based on genuine respect to each other. The Quaid told him that he was going to a country, which already had the most cordial relations in the world with Pakistan.2
Thus, it was in this background of budding relationship that these two brotherly neighbourly Muslim countries started off towards one another and year by year the links developed and progressed. In this regard, two statements, one that of the Shah of Iran and the other ofPresiuent Ayub Khan merit mention here; of March I, 1950,3 and March 6, 1967,4 in which the two leaders expressed deepest sense of sentiments towards each other countries.
But the most spectacular aspect ofPak-lran relations is the fact that the two countries have maintained the same; even better, level of relations-barring a few exceptions-in the two most significant periods of the contemporary Iranian history: in the periods before and after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This important and special nature and dimension of the relationship of the two countries has been pointedly emphasized and highly appreciated by such
celebrated authorities on the foreign policy of Pakistan as S.M. Burke and Lawrence Ziring in their two separate works; Pakistan's Foreign Policy: An Historical Analysis,5 and Pakistan: The Enigima of Political Development. 6
Therefore, it is in this light that one should see the overall context of Pakistan's relations with Ifr'an; and vice versa, and the genesis of not their cooperation only but also competition-in order to have an in-depth and thorough studies of their relations.
However, a brief resume of the two countries relations in the historical context can be interesting and informative here.
Analysis of Relations
Overall, the genesis of cooperation between the two countries revolved around the following focal points:
i. Common faith, geography, culture and traditions.
ii. Similar economic and political outlook.
iii. Identical strategic thinking, and defence cooperation particularly during the cold war, and after the Islamic Revolution.
iv. Like mindedness on most of the matters relating to the Muslim world.
v. Common bilateral, regional, and international approach.
vi. Homogeneity of stands on regional and international problems. vii. Convergence of interests on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, (NNP), matters.
viii.Extension of political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmir liberation struggle.
ix. Harmonious position on the establishment of the New International Economic Order, (NIEO).
x. Desirability of the existence of multi-polarity in the regional and world politics. Adherence to President Khatami's concept of Dialogue Among Civilizations, (DAC).
In the formative phase of Pakistan's foreign policy, there was only one country Iran, to its Southwest, which was, having a common border of about 590 miles, a truly friendly country in the immediate neighbourhood of Pakistan. India and Afghanistan being quite hostile, even China was traditionally, at that time, more friendly towards India rather than to Pakistan. In those trying days ofthe very survival and existence of Pakistan, Iran's friendship was a source of great consolation and satisfaction to Pakistan. Later on, throughout, Iran alongwith Turkey, supported Pakistan in more than one way, the best example of which was Iran's help to Pakistan during the September1965 war with India. It was alleged by India that Iran supplied oil free of cost to Pakistan.7 Moreover, Iran sent Pakistan nurses, medical supplies and a gift of 5,000 tons of petroleum Iran also indicated that it was considering an embargo on oil supplies to India for the duration of the fighting. After the suspension of the United States' military aid to Pakistan, Iran was reported to have purchased 90 Sabre Jet Fighters from West Germany and to have sent them to Pakistan. 8
Earlier in 1955, though Pakistan's membership of Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) no doubt was motivated by its security imperatives against India, as Ziring believed in, was not signed until Iran was satisfied that the British Government was not going to be obstructive on the nationalization of British oil companies in Iran. According to Dr. Mujtaba Razvi, Pakistan probably would never have joined the Baghdad Pact (CENTO), had Iran not decided to join too.9
Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey, in addition to being allies in CENTO, however, felt that regional economic and cultural co- operation should have been initiated outside the CENTO framework. Thus emerged the idea of the Regional Co-operation for Development (RCD), which aimed at closer economic and cultural collaboration. Formed in July 1964, the RCD was designed to connect the three countries through rail, road, and air alongwith collaboration in the field of shipping, abolition of visa formalities, and free movement of goods. The RCD secretariat was established in Tehran. 10
Meanwhile, despite the growing friendship between Pakistan and Iran there arose a boundary question as a result of confusions about their existing boundaries in 1947-49. But such was the nature of understanding between the two that the matter was most amicably resolved in February 1958 and the final Protocol on Pak- Iran Boundary Award was exchanged on August 31, 1960." On this occasion, Pakistan's Ambassador observed: "The successful conclusion of this highly intricate work demonstrates once again what can be achieved by peaceful negotiations between the two neighbourly nations whose relations are inspired by mutual respect, mutual goodwill, and mutual trust". He added: "Pillars of
stone and mortar may conceivably fall into despair one day, but I feel sure that the sentiments which inspire the settlement itselfwill remain untouched by the sands of time, for there is a boundary between two peoples who do not need a boundary: a boundary of love that joins rather than separates". 12
Certain other instances of the two countries' friendship have been Iran's assistance in normalizing Pakistan's relations with Afghanistan and Malaysia in 1961 and 1965-66 respectively.13 In addition, the choice of Nasrullah Entezam of Iran as Pakistan's nominee on the Run of Kutch Tribunal in 196669 was another clear example of Pakistan's reliance and trust on Iran in her international disputes.14 And once again, Iran made a significant contribution by facilitating the Pak-Afghan rapprochement in 1976.15
Pak-Iran Relations Since the Islamic Revolution
The government of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was overthrown in Pakistan in a military coup on July 5, 1977, after a political agitation by the opposition and people against his rule. The military regime, under General Zia-ul-Haq, was Islamically oriented in its nature and approach. This provided a rare combination of meeting of hearts and minds of the new leadership of the two countries for further developing their bilateral relations on much more firmer footings. Thus, the political change in Pakistan and the Islamic Revolution in Iran suited well to one another and, therefore, no diplomatic and political cleavage occurred between them. Rather, the two events turned out to be bonus for one another's already existing good relations.
Pakistan was one of the first countries in the world which recognized the revolutionary regime in Iran. The monarchy was over thrown and an Is[amic Republic declared in Iran in February 1979. Responding swiftly to this great revolutionary change, the government of Pakistan sent its Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Agha Shahi, to Tehran who met the Iranian Foreign Minister Karim Sanjabi on March 10, 1979. Both expressed confidence by stating that Iran and Pakistan were going to march together to a brighter future. The next day, Agha Shahi held talks with the Leader of the Is[amic Revolution, Ayutuallah Ruhollah Imam Khomeini, in which developments in the region were discussed. Subsequently, acclaiming and appreciating the Islamic Revolution as the voice of the people ofIran, President Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan, while sending message offe[icitations, said on April 11: "Khomeini is a symbol of Islamic insurgence". Reciprocating President Zia's sentiments, Imam Khomeini, in his letter, called for Muslim unity. He declared: "Ties with Pakistan are based on Is[am". 16
It is worth mentioning here that such was the collaboration and understanding between the two countries; and the continuity and furtherance of their policies, that while Pakistan had withdrawn from South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), established in 1954 due to its irrelevance after the loss of East Pakistan in December 1971, Pakistan did not leave, on the other hand, CENTO due to its West Asian/Middle Eastern importance. However, Ziring noted that it was also because of the presence of Iran and Turkey that at that time Pakistan did not quit that US military alliance.17 However, in 1979-80, due to the changing geo-po[itical realities, Pakistan left CENTO in February 1980. This decision, more than any other single factor, was precipitated by events in Iran during which Imam Khomeini severed all military and political associations and ties with the US. The same was the fate ofRCD which Iran, under the revolutionary leadership, condemned as another cold war outfit of the imperialist powers in the region. 18
Therefore, in this background of relations between Pakistan and Iran, its is difficult to accept the view expressed by Mushahid Hussain Sayed, former Editor of an english daily, The Muslim; and also a former Federal Minister of Pakistan, when he wrote in his book, "Pakistan and the Changing Regional Scenario", that relations [of Iran] with Pakistan, after the Revolution, 'have fluctuated between being better than normal to not very good'. For which, he elaborated several reasons: "differing geo-political perceptions and our [Pakistan's] inability to "keep pace" with the rapid speed of the Revolution".'9 However, one can understand Mushahid's comments in the backdrop of Iran's contempt and hatred for the US after the revolution. Coincidently and ironically this was exactly the time when, due to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, Pakistan had started, once again, developing "special [strategic and political] relationship with the US; and the one factor that could provoke a hostile reaction was summed up by Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sheikh-ul-Islam: "If any neighbouring Muslim country offers bases to any superpower, be it the United States or the Soviet Union, for use against Iran, we will consider it as an enemy similar to Israel".2O
To be clear, however, though the Deputy Foreign Minster apparently issued the statement in a revolutionary fervour, Pakistan had just joined the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) in September 1979, at Havana. Therefore, most certainly, there was no question of giving any bases to anyone, much less against a friendly country like Iran which had always proved to be such immense asset for Pakistan's military and strategic depth in its southwest in the presence of ever-threatening India and equally unfriendly Afghanistan. To the contrary, Pakistan wanted to take Iran together in the resolution of the crisis. Foreign Minister Agha Shahi's visit to Iran, on February 2, 1981, to seek its endorsement of Pakistan's initiative for a dialogue with Kabul /USSR, through the UN, was a reflection of the fact,21 In addition, despite Iran's refusal to take any part; whatsoever, in the indirect Geneva talks on Afghanistan under the UN auspices since June, 16, 1982 Pakistan made it a point that, throughout the negotiations, Iran was to be kept fully informed about the developments in the talks.22
Later on, Iran was able to quickly realize Pakistan's precarious position vis-a-vis the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan which had placed the former in a central and dangerous situation as a front- line state against the southwards drive of that ever-expanding superpower: that was a nightmare for Pakistan. Satisfactorily enough, finally a consensus developed between Iran and Pakistan on this sensitive issue, the common objective of the two being the earliest possible withdrawal of the Soviet forces, numbering about 100,000, from Afghanistan.23
Not only this, but Iran also accepted Pakistan's leading mediatory role in the Islamic Peace Committee of the OIC to end the Iran-Iraq war erupted on September 1, 1980.24 This clearly exemplified the deep respect and regard that the Islamic regime had for Pakistan latter's new found US connections notwithstanding. In this regard, President Zia urged quick end of Iran-Iraq conflict and travelled to Tehran and Baghdad, more than once, beginning September 28, 1980, and though Pakistan due to its military links with the U.S. and relations with the Arab world could not openly condemn the Iraqi aggression against Iran it, nevertheless, urged the big powers to stay away from the war.25
Thus, despite vicissitudes of regional and international politics, good relations are a characteristic of the two countries. Regular visits of the top leadership and high dignitaries ofIran and Pakistan occur, more so after the Islamic Revolution, in which exchange of views takes place on matters of common bilateral, regional and international interests and concerns. General Zia-ul- Haq visited Iran just after the Revolution. Similarly, President Seyyed Ali Khamenai visited Pakistan in January 1986. It is clearly realized on the part of two countries, that despite some minor divergences of approaches on certain matters-which is quite natural of any two good friends anywhere in the world to maintain close contact with one another. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto visited Iran on May 15, 1990, and December 8, 1993, meeting President Hashemi Rafsanjani and other leaders.26 Likewise, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif paid visits to Iran during his both terms of office. Infact, it has become a permanent feature of the Pakistani leaders to go to Iran in their first foreign visits. President Rafsanjani visited Islamabad on September 6, 1992, while President Mohammad Khatami has visited Pakistan in December 2002.27
All this clearly and vividly demonstrates that the two countries are attaching great importance to their multifaceted relations, developed over the decades. They have not made their relations hostage to the divergent perceptions, if any, or the changing regimes in their countries. The same is also the case of Pakistan's relations with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China and some other countries, though this does not hold exactly true for Pakistan's relations with the US or UK or much of the rest of the Western world which mostly operates on specific interest basis, instead of maintaining a real state to state or people to people basis relations, something the US/West, due to the reasons best known to them only, could not or-did not-understand well.
Now, in terms of the people to people relations, particularly in the shape of the cultural and linguistic impact on Pakistan; Iran, infact, is way ahead of many countries of the Muslim world and the world at large-even more than Turkey and China. It is because, in addition to their common faith and current shared interests, Pakistan and Iran also have deep cultural and linguistic ethnological affinities. Persian was the court language and the principal vehicle of literary and intellectual expression for several centuries of Muslim rule in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Thus Persian, over the years, strongly influenced most of Pakistan's languages and left a lasting impact on the culture of Muslim India. According to Dr. Mujtaba Razvi, "it is indeed fair to say that next to Islam, the Iranian cultural traditions perhaps exercised the most decisive and penetrating influence in fashioning the Muslim socio- cultural ethos in both East and West Pakistan". It is also significant to note, Razvi further says, "that Pakistan's national anthem, with Coming back to political side of their relations, both the countries share almost the same perceptions on various regional and global issues and there is almost a complete unanimity of views, of late, between them on such matters as the Palestinian problem, the Kashmir dispute, the Afghan crisis, the Iraqi situation and on the general nature of regional and international politics.
In commerce and trade, too, there has been progress since Revolution between them, though much remains to be done as their performance, could and should have been much better in this field is not upto the mark. Still, however, the Pak-Iran Joint Ministerial Commission, established in 1986, provides a useful institutional framework for the identification of areas to promote economic and commercial cooperation and to review and monitor the implementation of its various decisions. The main areas of
cooperation under the framework of the JMC include inter alia, industry, banking, oil and gas, communications, manpower, agriculture, education, culture, and science and technology. Pakistan's principal exports to Iran include rice, cotton, leather etc. Oil is the principal import from Iran alongwith fruit preparations, minerals, machinery and parts. However, the trade balance has been in favour of Iran for quite some time. Pakistan is trying to decrease its trade imbalance with Iran by holding trade fairs and exhibitions. Pakistan is also trying to introduce new products into the Iranian markets. According to one study, trade between Pakistan and Iran declined during fiscal 200 I -2002 from $ 394.580 million to $ 166.444 million. Pakistan lost Iranian markets for transport equipment and leather due to reported delay in shipments and poor quality of products. A report prepared by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said, unnecessary trade barriers and challenges of competitive regime also caused reduction in Pakistan's exports to Iran in 200 I. Iran cancelled order for Pakistani wheat due to its poor quality. Trade figures of2000-01 compiled by Federal Bureau of Statistics reveal that Iran enjoyed favourable trade relations with Pakistan. The total bilateral trade volume was $394.56 million, of which deficit of Pakistan was recorded at $ 345.56 million. However, figures of fiscal year 200 1-2002 show little improvement in Pakistani exports of$ 29.201 million from $24 million in last fiscal. Imports from Iran decreased from $370.580 to $ 157.24 million in 2001-2002. The main reason for trade deficit between two countries is import of petroleum (crude) and furnace oil from Iran costing $299.20 million Pakistan imported petroleum crude, furnace oil, high speed diesel, cotton, vegetables and fruits from Iran in fiscal 2000- Oland exported rice, textile yarn, fabrics, surgical instruments, electric machinery and its spare parts, chemical material and its byproducts.31
In addition, Iran has expressed its willingness for the design of a comprehensive mobile communication network in Pakistan. Moreover, there is a scope of cooperation in maintenance of ports, maritime, commercial navigation, shipbuilding and repairs, post and telecommunications. Both countries also agreed to expedite the establishment of ajoint shipping company. On the educational side, Pakistan is currently offering about 50 seats annually to Iranian students under the Technical Assistance Programme which is 14% of the totality of the programme. Pakistan has also established a chair in Urdu and Pakistan Studies at the Tehran University. In future, Pakistan can provide technology to Iran in the areas of water management, harvesting and moisture conservation in rain-fed areas. In addition, Pakistan can provide quality seeds of wheat, maize, rice, cotton and sugar-cane to Iran. Pakistan can also provide training for short term and degree programmes at the agricultural research institutes and universities. It is worth noting here that during the visit of President Mohammad Khatami on December 24-26,2002, three accords on cooperation were signed, in addition to an MoU. They were on science and technology, to enhance bilateral trade, on plant quarantine, and an MoU on the 13th session ofPak-lran Joint Economic Commission.32
But the most important item of economic cooperation between the two countries was the emphasis on the issue of a projected gas pipeline from Iran across Pakistan to India. For the sake of this mega project, Pakistan has even decided against conceding to American pressure to delay or cancel the planned deal of great economic and strategic importance. According to a source, the US has a strategic interest in keeping Iran away from expanding its strategic and economic interest in the region, that is why Washington had been opposing the proposed Iran Pak India pipeline. Washington is also wary of the growing bonhomie between Tehran and Islamabad ever since the only major irritant between the two sides Pakistan's support to the Taliban has been rendered irrelevant by the recent events.33
In the same visit of President Khatami, Mr. Ahmed Khurram, co-chairman of Pakistan Iran Joint Commission said that 'Iran is upgrading its rail links from Kirman to Zahidan and from Zahidan to Taftan to establish an effective railway link with Pakistan which, in turn, would connect Pakistan with Europe'. He further said; 'President Khatami's visit after a period of 10 years, is a turning point for trade and investment relations between the two countries'.34
Areas of disagreements and competition/divergences:
The two countries did have, until the recent past, areas of disagreements and competition also which, over all, could be put as under:
i. Pakistan's support to the Taliban in Afghanistan before 9/ 11. ii. US involvement in Afghanistan and in the region.
iii. Pakistan US strategic collaboration in Afghanistan since 9/11. iv. Pakistan's close relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sheikhdoms.
v. Divergence of policies on the Persian Gulf.
vi. Pakistan's claim as the "Fortress ofIslam".
vii. Iran's support to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. viii.lran's growing relations with India and Russia.
ix. Sectarian problem in Pakistan.
x. Quest for CARs.
Now, out of the above-cited list of outstanding issues between the two countries some are already settled, either by compulsion or by conviction like Pakistan's support to the Taliban or sectarian problem in Pakistan; and Pakistan's close relations with Saudi Arabia and other Sheikhdoms since Iran itself has quickly started improving its ties with them and ceases to talk about exporting revolution in the region. Similarly, a rationale or genesis of a very strong Iranian support to the Northern Alliance in the context of competition with Pakistan is also no more there after the ouster of the Taliban from power.
In one study, Nasim Zehra points out the following outstanding issues between the two countries.35
i. The US factor.
ii. The sectarian factor.
i. The North-South corridor.36 ii. Afghanistan factor.
iii. Trade hurdles.
iv. India factor.
On the defence cooperation Ms Zehra has the opinion that the stalled relationship in the area of defence has picked up since the end of200 I. Pakistan and Iran are involved in the joint production of detence equipment including Pakistan designed AI-Khalid Tanks. There exists already the July 1989 Pakistan Iran Defence Agreement. Other areas under consideration for joint production include helicopters, unmanned vehicles and APCS. Discussions for signing a new defence cooperation agreement are presently under way, and the potential for the greatest cooperation between the two Navies in training, technical aspects needs to be further "7
The slow cooperation in the defence sector reflects unresolved
fundamental issues which are holding down the better prospects in the Pakistan Iran defence cooperation. Lately, in a joint communique, released on December 26, 2002 on the occasion of the Iranian President visit to Pakistan, the desirability of Tehran for an enhanced strategic cooperation with Islamabad was strongly emphasised. Quite significant, however, during the visit of President Khatami, was the decision of the two countries to hold joint military exercises starting early 2003. This will help beef up bilateral defence cooperation. Islamabad and Tehran have had in the past limited military cooperation confined to minor maritime exercises, some training and small arms and ammunition sales.3R
However, the best thing between friends like Iran and Pakistan had been the candid acceptance of differences of opinion instead of hiding behind or escaping them. The admission by the Pakistan leadership and the Foreign Office of the differences of approach with Iran over Afghanistan, when Taliban were in power, was an open secret though it had little shock value. The two countries, unfortunately, were virtual rivals or strong competitors to put it a little milder where they suspected each other's motives, backed different factions across the battle-lines and agreed to disagree on the mode of restoring peace. But the admission was important. It was a departure from the characteristic mealy-mouthing the Foreign Office and its political bosses indulged in while discussing Iran in public. But after the fall of the Taliban much to their own serious miscalculations rather than any Iranian plan the acrimony between the two countries is now a history and the statement of Pakistan's then Foreign Minister, Abdul Sattar, in November, 2001, that "the clouds are over and the sun is shining" [over the skies of Iran and Pakistan] was very meaningful and reflective of the new political developments between them. Earlier, the Iranians had seriously objected to not only the political and diplomatic support of Pakistan to the Taliban but also on the reports of the presence of the Pakistani troops within the TaMan militia. For instance, refugees from Mazar-i-Sharif reported that the TaMan were accompanied by Pakistani fighters identifiable by their language
and the flag of a Muslim fundamentalist party aligned with the Taliban.39
Of course, routinely Pakistan denied all such charges, particularly the involvement in the problem of some elements of its security agencies and official militia. The disagreement on Afghanistan was just one of the many jagged edges of a bilateral relationship that had been smooth more in myth than in reality on this particular issue between Iran and Pakistan. But from the real politik's point of view, Pakistan's support to the Taliban was not because of its competition with Iran but primarily because ofIndia against which Pakistan, as a matter of defence policy, had always tried to avoid a two-front threat, in its northeast and the northwest. And for that, according to General Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, 'good relations with Iran and Afghanistan were in Pakistan's security interest' .40
Thus, it was a compulsion for Pakistan to recognize a friendly regime in the shape of Taliban in Afghanistan which was more a geopolitical rather than an ideological requirement for Pakistan. But in doing so, Pakistan's relations with Iran started seriously suffering. This could have been well avoided by Pakistan; as well as by Iran, for the sake of their long term interests. Nevertheless, even before 9/1 I, according to President Musharraf, Pakistan's relations with Iran changed dramatically [for better] and though he would not call them excellent [at that time] but short of that, they were certainly very good then.41
Going geographically further northwest beyond Afghanistan, the emergence of Central Asian Republics, in 1990-91, had apparently another area of competition between the two countries for political and economic influence there, according to many observers, at that time. But to be more correct this matter was in a general sense true for the rest of the other countries of the world too as many of them were also interested in the area, particularly countries like Turkey, Germany and US. Actually, no negative competition on the CARs existed between Iran and Pakistan. The matter was over projected and blown out of proportion. To the contrary, the inclusion of all CARs and Azerbaijan in the expanded ECO, since early 1990s, clearly showed that the so-called competition was over exaggerated and imaginary rather than real. And to be further clear, the very conversion of RCD into ECO, in 1985, was an ample example of the fact that the genesis and rationale was of regional economic cooperation and not competition between Iran and Pakistan, as well as between Turkey and other regional and non-regional powers. However, even if they still might be friendly competitors for the markets of Central Asia, in the case of products that Iran does not produce, Pakistan feels there can be less logistical hindrances.42
Islamic world's leadership was said to be another area of competition between these two important Muslim countries of South West Asia. It was said that Iran had since long been wary of Islamabad's effOlis to be the flag bearer of the Islamic Ummah trying to hog the show of commitment to the cause of Islam. This became all the more true, according to the same thinking, after the Islamic Revolution, since when Iran seemed said to be in virtual competition with Islamabad over the right to the point around which the Islamic world revolved. But, looking objectively, one cannot accept this logic of its proponents as Iran, in all its official statements, has always called for the greatest possible Muslim unity rather than anything else. President Khatami repeated the same appeal in his Pakistan visit of 2002 when he most openly stated that" the pressure on Pakistan [by certain well known countries] to abandon its nuclear programme should be shifted to Israel in possession of more than a hundred nuclear warheads" .43
This categorical statement also dispels the erroneous' impression generated by some circles of vested interests that Iran was, in any way, jealous of Pakistan's becoming a nuclear power on 28 May, 1998, due to which the latter could further consolidate its claim to be the leader of the Muslim world after turning out to be the first ever Muslim state to achieve the nuclear power status. To the contrary, to keep the record straight, Iran strongly supported and backed Pakistan, on June I, 1998, on its counter nuclear blasts. 44 agaInst n la.
Now, as far as Pakistan's special strategic relations with the US and the Iranian reaction to criticize them are concerned, it can be said that it became a strategic compulsion for Iran as it tried to break the tightening ring of isolation that the US had placed around it. Under the circumstances, therefore, any move that Pakistan made in order to be important in the eyes of the US even though for Pakistan's most genuine security reasons against India or to attract the attention of the countries of the Muslim world naturally caused heartburn in Iran [this is no longer the case now]. Earlier, in much of the 1980s, this distrust was more pronounced and bordered on diplomatic competition on Tehran's assessment of Pakistan's relations with the US. But to make matters more worse itself, Washington-lately-has made no bones about where Iran stood on its list of foreign policy objectives. It defined Iran as a terrorist state and included it in its latest triangle of the "axis of evil", alongwith Iraq and North Korea. Surely, the US after its occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, is now trying for a regime change in Iran also. Paranoid, Iran had been watching sharply and quite naturally to the melting of ice and closing of ranks between Pakistan and US. Iran, earlier used to perceive Pakistan, alongwith Saudi Arabia and the Sheikhdoms, to supplement American foreign policy agenda in Southwest Asia and the Gulf. Close Pak-US strategic collaboration also constrained Pakistan to support Iranian's policy of the "security of the Gulf by the Gulf countries". But Iran, instead of doubting Pakistan's relations with the US would, to the opposite, find it very satisfying and encouraging the statement of the man no less than the President of Pakistan himself clearly stating, in his official visit to the US, UK, Germany and France in mid 2003, that it worried and concerned him a lot when countries like Iran [so important for Pakistan] are pointed at and placed in the axis of evil paradigm. He critized the West for waging its battle against international terrorism on too many fronts. "It bothered him when he heard about countries like Iran being targeted".45 This must remove the misunderstandings, ifany, of the Iranians about Pak-US relations which could and would never be at the cost of Pak-Iran relations just as Iran asserts that Indo-Iran relations could and would never be at the cost of Iran-Pakistan relations. Definitely, and without any doubt, Pakistan's foreign policy on Iran has its own independent and permanent value, irrespective of its relations with any other country of the world. Pakistan would never allow its territory to be used by any power against Iran.
Yet another area of irritation between Iran and Pakistan, which also now has been happily overcome, was Iran's view ofthe way the Shia minority in Pakistan was treated. When, a couple of years back, the sectarian problem was ripe and sectarian murders common, Iranian newspapers were full of commentaries critical of Pakistan. Apart from media, Iranian officials also openly regretted and condemned the killings of Shias though there were also killings of Sunnis in almost equal numbers and called upon the Pakistan government to rein in rival sectarian parties, like the Anjuman-i-Sipah-i-Sahaba. On September 12, 1996, a Shia leader Allama Mureed Abbas Yazdani was shot dead in Islamabad. This resulted in the outbreak of sectarian violence in the Kuram Agency in the Northwest of Pakistan in which the death toll rose to 200 within few days. This situation was indeed very alarming. Later, on January 19, 1997, a Sipah-i-Sahaba procession turned violent and set ablaze Iranian Cultural Centre in Lahore. This was the extreme on which the annoyance and protest of Iran was completely justified. On its part, Pakistan was also quite worried over Iran's growing influence, particularly after the Revolution, on the Shias in Pakistan.
However, thanks to the very practical and concrete steps taken by the government of President Pervez Musharraf, the si tuation has greatly come under control. Iran has appreciated these measures, particularly since February 2001, following the execution of the man responsible for Sadiq Ganji's assassination.41 However, the saboteurs can, again and again, create such situations to divide the Shia-Sunni brothers in Pakistan and, in turn, negatively affect Pakistan's relations with Iran. The other motive could be to convey the wrong signal to the international investors to stay away from Pakistan due to its instable domestic situation. Therefore, instead of falling in this trap and plan, all concerned should, instead, defeat such ruthless elements who are bent upon destroying the sectarian harmony in Pakistan. And in order to strongly tackle this threat there should be no complacency in this connection and maximum possible political, security and administrative measures, followed by severe penalties, be taken against and imposed upon the sectarian killers and criminals by the government of Pakistan. Otherwise, this would have no end. This must be taken very seriously; practically and just not rhetorically.
From Pakistan's point of view, Iran's growing political and trade relations with India, and to lesser extent with Russia, was another cause of concern. However, when Pakistan [the Pakistani critics] said that Iran's emerging political and trade relations with India marred its status of bilateralism with Pakistan; it showed that they were oblivious of requirements of diplomacy. They should know that Pak-Iran relations are deep rooted and cannot be spoiled due to these developments which have to be seen in the overall context of regional and international politics in which Iran found itself after the Revolution. Such relations are also based on principle of bilateralism in which contacts between any two countries should not be seen against the third one. This is what bilateralism and diplomacy stands for. And this is exactly what we said to the US when it objected on our opening to China in 1962. In this regard, it may be reminded here that, instead of causing any harm it was the same Pakistan whose help was sought by the US in its opening to China in 1971 when Pakistan became a bridge between those two cold war adversaries. Likewise, Iran can also playa very constructive role of reducing tensions between Pakistan and India as Iran has good relations with both South Asian rivals.46
Moreover, specifically on the Kashmir, despite some misgivings on Iran's lukewarm support to Pakistan in order to please India,47 one should see with open eyes what the former Indian Foreign Secretary J. N. Dixit, the man who had master- minded the visit of President Rafsanjani to India, had commented in the Indian Express on April 25, 1994. Mr. Dixit had dashed to the ground Indian hopes of winning over Iran on its side. He said, how could India expect Iran which was a deeply religious country to support India on Kashmir? Dixit had further commented that India should be prepared to tackle the sophisticated intrusive approach of Iran into Indian political affairs. Thus, quite logically, the Iranian support to Pakistan on Kashmir has increased rather than having been decreased after the Islamic Revolution. To be exact, the very genesis of the Revolution supports this view as the Revolution basically was, and is, anti-imperialist and anti occupation, both against the American and India as well as fiercely against Israel. Infact, Pakistan now has come to understand the leverage that Iran, through its quiet diplomacy, can exert on India on the Kashmir dispute for its peaceful resolution. And in this regard, Iran's mediatory role can be very important.. This realization was echoed by President Musharraf on President Khatami's visit to Pakistan.4x
One country's relations with another should be tested in times of tests and trials to be very sure and clear about them. Going through all those years, it can be safely and confidently said that Iran and Pakistan, as a whole, have maintained and demonstrated over the years; particularly since the revolution pretty satisfactory level of
consistency and progress in their relations. They have indeed passed the tests of times. Much water has flowed under the bridge ever since they first established their relations back in 1947. However, one would always desire that these relations should have much better than what they were until 9/11 since 1996; the period which could be broadly characterized as the one of "mixed relations". However, after 9/1 1, the pace of their relations has quickened and the diplomatic traffic increased. Thanks God, at the moment, their relations are all time best and, as they say, are back on track. But now the most important challenge for them would be to maintain and further increase the current high level of understanding and excellent relations between them. This could and should be done with perseverance, pragmatism, and far- sightedness. Their foreign polices should be based not only on short term and issue by issue basis but also on more long lasting and long range objectives that the two countries share with one another. And for this very important purpose alone they will have to forego some of their temporary differences in their respective foreign policies, here and there, by trying to understand one another's problems in regional and international politics sometimes, due to their particular contextual situations. To be sure, the two are destined to be natural partners, as President Khatam i said, "we have common causes and common faith, shared goals and objectives. There is nothing between Iran and Pakistan that could not be resolved through negotiations. We look to the future, a bright future in which Iran and Pakistan can help each other". Most importantly, President Khatami, for the sake of humanity at large and international community, asked the Muslim world "to take a holistic view of the Western civilization without losing sight of its own heritage. In this respect, while delivering his long awaited lecture, in Islamabad, he called for the dialogue "among civilizations instead of clash". What else could be a better example than this approach and thinking of Iran for the bilateral, regional and international peace, understanding and security the US and the western allegations notwithstanding. Pakistan also fully subscribes to this realistic and logical philosophic concept.49
It can be finally stated that, despite some minor divergences of
approaches and not actually the objectives, policies, and against all the ill-wishers ofthe enemies ofIran and Pakistan, from within and outside, no body can forever hamper the efforts for more cordial and strong relations between them. Both the countries stand united on matters like Kashmir, Palestine, Afghanistan and the rest of the other problems of the Muslim world except some difference of approach on Iraq and the world at large.
The two countries strictly follow principles of the UN, NAM, ECO, and the OIC, besides those of other regional and international forums. And though both Pakistan and Iran have their own reasons to be friendly and cooperative with the US and India respectively, Pakistan and Iran can not have for themselves the friendship of the formerly mentioned two countries at the expense of their own relations. This should not be for the sake of their common ideology only but also because of the geopolitical compulsions of the two due to the changed regional and international situation after 9/ II in which they need one another more than at any time in their history. This is all the more true for Pakistan which is, now, not having a very friendly Afghanistan where India is trying to have a politico- economic strategies come back. This has enhanced the importance of Iran for Pakistan manifold. Similarly, according to an Iranian scholar and researcher, the security of Pakistan has been of great importance for Iran which is quite prepared to further enhance its all round strategic cooperation with Pakistan.5O
Likewise, on its part, in the wake of the new US designs against Iran in the post Saddam Iraq, Pakistan can playa vital role in decreasing tensions between Iran and US. It is also an established reality that neither India nor the United States can cause any dent in relations between these two neighbourly and brotherly Islamic countries. Indeed, the concerns of Iran and Pakistan are closely related to one another in the new regional and international conditions. In which, while on the one hand, after 9/11 new problems were created for the two countries, on the other at the same time, these new conditions have also provided the conditions for an increased cooperation between [ran and Pakistan. However, this is not to say that the relations between them would now be just based on idealism in a world of realism as both have their limitations in a unipolar world dominated by the US.
However, both must stand guard against the nefarious designs of all those internal and external elements who, time and again, try to damage their relations. Pakistan and Iran with their steadfastness, seriousness and mature approach could foil all such designs once and for all.
Notes and References:
I Mujtaba Razvi, The Frontiers of Pakistan: A Study of Frontier Problems in Pakistan's Foreign Policy (Karachi Dacca: National Publishing House, 1971), 203.
'The Shahinshah oflran, at the State Banquet given in his honour by the governor General of Pakistan on March I, 1950, said: "The Divine Code States that Muslims are brothers, this, with God's Grace, is most true in case of Iran and Pakistan", Pakistan Horizon, First Quarter, 1968, Iran Number, 40-44, quoted in the Frontiers of Pakistan, 203.
4 At the State Banquet given in honour of the Shahinshah of Iran on March 6, 1967, the President of Pakistan said: 'Iran and Pakistan are linked together by age-old historical ties and faith. These have been strengthened by a common faith, culture and outlook. The people of Iran and Pakistan share each others' joys and sorrows, and their hearts beat in unison. The people of Pakistan will always remember with grateful appreciation the spontaneous support and assistance extended to us by Your Majesty, your Government and the people of Iran during these fateful days of September 1965.' The Shahinshah replied, 'oo.so, it is a mixture of sentiments of affinity, and I add political wisdom, that we have chosen to stand by in good or bad days'. Quoted in The Frontiers of Pakistan, 203-204.
'S.M. Burke, Pakistan's Foreign Policy: An Historical Analysis
(London: Oxford University Press, 1971),447. "Lawrence Ziring, Pakistan: The Enigma of Political Development
(Boulder: West view, 1980),244. 'Safdar Mahmood, Pakistan: Political Roots and Development 1947-
1999 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 223-24. "The Hindu (Madras), November 15, 1966 & Dawn (Karachi),
September 3, 1966.
"Mujtaba Razvi, 203.
"'Safdar Mahmood, 223.
"Mujtaba Razvi, 206-09. Pakistan's border dispute with Iran was also an imperial British legacy. Some parts of Baluchistan had been under Iranian suzerainty before the advent of the British Raj. Britain, after conquering Baluchistan, entered into border agreements with Iran in 1871, 1896 and 1905,... Though the transfer of power in 1947 was not
PAK-IRAN RELATIONS IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
accompanied by a Pakistani domination of Siestan and Persian Baluchistan, there was nonetheless some Iranian territory including the town of Zahidan, the terminus of the railway from Quetta which did come under Pakistani control....
In 1955, on Pakistan's suggestion, the two countries agreed to submit their boundary problem to arbitration if direct negotiations between them failed to produce agreement. On October 30, 1956, it was reported that complete agreement on the demarcation of their boundaries had been reached between the two countries. By October 1957, the Pakistan Cabinet had completed consideration of the draft agreement, and it was formally approved and signed on February 6, 1958. The final protocol on the Pakistan Iran Boundary Accord was exchanged on August 31, 1960. President Ayub Khan described the Pakistan Iran border accord as a landmark in the history of Pakistan Iran unity. But some people in Pakistan resented the agreement, as they believed that it involved the cession of a considerable expanse of Pakistani territory to Iran. The Opposition Party moved a motion in Parliament to restrain the Government from transferring Pakistani territory to a foreign country; but it was ruled out of order by the Speaker. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, explaining the position, stated in the National Assembly: "It is not a fact that Pakistan has given away 3,000 square miles to Iran. We agreed to give to Iran 310 square miles of its territory, which had been forcibly occupied by the British, when they were rulers of the subcontinent, land against which occupation the Government ofIran had always protested.
]~Ibid., 208. .
"Ibid., 208-09. When diplomatic relations between Pakistan and
Afghanistan were severed in 1961, Iran under took special mission to Kabul; and when this did not bear immediate fruit, it continued to pursue its good offices in the matter, and helped restore Pak-Afghan diplomatic ties after an estrangement of about two years. Iran also successfully mediated in removing the misunderstanding between Pakistan and Malaysia, which had arisen in the wake of the Indo-Pakistan armed conflict of September 1965, when the Malaysian representative, Radhakrishna Ramani, had injudiciously given full support to India's position in the Security Council of the United Nations, and thus made Malaysia the only country in the world to champion India in this issue. These efforts of the Iranian monarch were much appreciated in both Pakistan and Malaysia.
PAK-IRAN RELATIONS SINCE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION
"Mohammad Ayub, The Middle East in World Politics, ed. (Canberra: Croom Helm, 1979), 147.
'6Pakistan Chronology, 1947-97, (Islamabad: Press and Information
Department, Government of Pakistan, 1998),485-86.
19Mushahid Hussain, Pakistan and the Changing Regional Scenario: Reflections of a Journalist (Lahore: Progressive Publishers, 1988),85. 2°lbid.
2 'Pakistan Chronology, 50 I.
22Riaz M. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot: Negotiating Soviet Withdrawal (Lahore: Progressive Publishers, 1993), 49-50.
24Pakistan Chronology, 498.
"The News (Islamabad), December 24,2002, p.l.
2'Mujtaba Razvi, 204.
29Shireen Mazari, "Iran-Pakistan Cooperation \n the New Strategic Environment", Strategic Studies (Islamabad) Vol. XXII, No. I, Spring 2000:4.
JO"Khatami for holistic view of Western culture", The News
(Islamabad), December 25,2002, p. 128. lI"Pak-Iran trade declines", The News (Islamabad), December 25,
2002, p. 20. 12"4 Accord on Cooperation signed", The Statesman (Peshawar),
December25, 2002, p.l. JJ"Pakistan rejects US pressure over Iran India pip line Project" The
News (Islamabad), December 24,2002, p. 9. J4"Pakistan, Iran to increase economic cooperation", Daily Times
(Lahore), December 25,2002, p. 134. J5Naseem Zehra, "Pakistan-Iran Relations: Compulsions and Conditions for a Strategic Relationship", Strategic Studies, Institute of Strategic Studies, (Islamabad), Vol. XXIII, Spring 2003, No. I: 85-86. "'fbid., p. 86. According to Naseem Zehra, as Pakistan Iran relations
PAK-IRAN RELATIONS IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
deteriorated over their divergent Afghan policies, Pakistan perceived that the Iranian government was deliberately denying it the use of overland trading routes. Specifically Pakistani officials complained about Iran's delay in constructing the 500 kilometers Zahidan-Kerman railway section. During the January 2003, thirteenth session of the Pakistan Iran Joint Economic Commission, the Iranian delegation informed its Pakistani colleagues, that 250 kilometers of the 550 kilometers stretch has been constructed. By 2005 the entire length will be constructed. A section of the Pakistani establishment was also critical of Iran's decision to upgrade the Chahabahar port facilities to make the Mumbai-Chahabahar route functional for trade between India and the Central Asian Republics. It had been viewed as an Iranian step to promote Indian interests as well as side-step Pakistan from the critical trade route.
3"Aslam Khan, "Pakistan, Iran, to hold joint military exercises", The News (Islamabad), December 24,2002, p. I. 39M. S. Johari, The Taliban: Ascent to Power (London: Oxford
University Press), 116. 4('General Pervez Musharraf, "Foreign Policy of Pakistan", from an address delivered at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs Karachi, on 23 June, 2000, Pakistan Horizon (Karachi) Vol. 53, November 2 & 3, AprilJuly 2000: 51.
43"lran against pressure on Pak Nuclear Programme", The News (Islamabad), December 25, 2002, pp.1 & 8.
44Pakistan Chronology, 844.
4s"Nuclear option last resort Musharif', The News (Islamabad), June 20,2003, p. I.
46Pakistan Chronology, p. 844.
47Shahid Amin, Pakistan's Foreign Policy: A Reappraisal (London: Oxford University Press, 2000), 141. 48"Musharif seeks Iran role in Kashmir solution", The News
(Islamabad), December 25,2002, p. I. 49"Khatami for holistic view of western civilization", The News (Islamabad), December 25,2002. For a more detailed study ofthe concept, see Mohammad Khatami, Islam, Dialogue and Civil Society (Canberra:
PAK-IRAN RELATIONS SINCE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION
The Australian National University, 2000), 1-34.
5O"A view expressed by Ziba Farzinnia" in "Iran and Pakistan: Back on Track", a research paper presented in the International Conference Organized by the Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar, on Pakistan's Foreign Policy: Regional and International Dimensions on April 22 23,2003. Ziba Farzinnia is an Iranian scholar who is the head of Journal Department and expert on Pakistan Affairs at the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), Tehran.