Pakistan, Iran share fraternal ties: Speaker

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser in Parliament House Islamabad on Thursday and discussed matters pertaining to bilateral relations and regional issues.
The Iranian Foreign Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation along with Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost.
During meeting, the Speaker hoped that the two sides will continue to expand economic interaction for promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, energy and connectivity. He further added that Pak-Iran Parliamentary engagement is highly imperative for promoting cohesion and stability in the entire region.
While talking with Iranian Foreign Minister, Asad Qaiser said that robust Pak-Iran relation is inevitable for regional peace, security and prosperity. He said that Pakistan believes in the unity of Muslim countries and stressed the importance of both Pakistan and Iran working together for resolution of problems faced by the Ummah.
Asad Qaiser said that Iran and Pakistan are intertwined by stronger multi-dimensional relations. Appreciating Iran’s geo-political significance, he remarked that Iran’s role is central to unifying the Muslim world and underlined the need for pro-active parliamentary diplomacy to further cooperation amongst the Muslim countries. He also noted that the two countries also need to move forward with consensus on matters of international importance.
The Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif added that Iran consider Pakistan as its partner for peace in the region and expressed his hope that in future both nations will continue to chart the paths of prosperity together.
He reiterated Asad Qaiser’s proposal for diversification of trade and economic relations. He also conveyed the desire of the Iranian leadership and the government for continued efforts for growth in bilateral ties. He also supported the freedom of Palestine and Kashmir and urged to resolve these issues in peaceful manners.
Contending that Iran-Pakistan ties are influenced by the ancient and historical bonds between the two nations, Mr. Mohammad Jawad Zarif said that the two nations have always stood alongside each other in difficult condition and bilateral ties are unbreakable. He endorsed Asad Qaiser’s proposal for collaboration to promote sustainable patterns of governance and assist each other in institutional building for effective governance.
On this occasion Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif also congratulated and conveyed best wishes from Iranian Speaker and his leadership to Asad Qaiser on his election as the Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Pakistan says visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif to Islamabad is a ‘very positive and welcoming’ development.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal, while responding to a question at his weekly news briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, said Foreign Minister Zarif arrived in Islamabad on Thursday to hold talks with Pakistani leadership on bilateral relations and regional situation.
“Foreign Minister Zarif will have talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the details of the meetings would be released later,” he said.
He went on to say that Iran is our brother, ‘we have historic ties with the country and the visit of Zarif is a very positive development for us. “We have a long border with Iran and wish to have a peaceful, stable shared border,” he noted.
This would be the first visit by any foreign dignitary after the formation of new government in Pakistan. It is pertinent to mention that this is Zarif’s eighth visit to Pakistan since he became the foreign minister in 2013.
To another question, Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said Chabahar and Gwadar ports are complementary to each other and all options are being considered to enhance our cooperation with Iran. “We want to proceed on these projects with Iran jointly,” he said.
“We have no issue with India’s presence in Chabahar, we have to take the decisions which are in our own national interests,” he said.
Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif arrived in Islamabad on Thursday evening to hold talks with Pakistani leadership on bilateral relations and regional situation.
High-ranking Pakistani officials and Iranian ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost received Zarif upon his arrival at Nur Khan Airbase of Islamabad.
This would be the first visit by any foreign dignitary after the formation of the new government in Pakistan.
It is worth mentioning that it is Zarif’s eighth visit to Pakistan since he became Iranian foreign minister in 2013.
The visit will provide Iran and Pakistan with an opportunity to explore ways to expand trade.
During his two-day stay in Pakistan, Zarif is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Finance Minister Asad Umar.
He will also hold meeting with Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser and Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani.
Meanwhile, Pakistan human rights activist says Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi should talk about amnesty for Pakistani prisoners in Iran during visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif to Islamabad.
Sarah Belal executive director, Justice Project Pakistan, in her article published in daily Dawn said in 2014, the number of Pakistanis imprisoned in Iran was 203, adding that currently, there is no information about the exact number of Pakistanis on death row in Iran but the number is believed to be high.
She said that in August 2017, Iran’s parliament approved a bill that amended its drug-trafficking laws to curtail the application of the death penalty to drug offenders. “The amendment reduces the minimum possession of drugs, including their production or distribution, which results in a death sentence,” she said.
The analyst said most importantly, the law applies retroactively to those on death row, promising to reduce death sentences of those convicted under the previous standard to imprisonment (about 30 years) and cash fines.
She noted that the amendment took effect on November 14, 2017.
The expert said following the Islamic revolution in 1979, anti-narcotics legislation became more and more severe, and, as a result, Iran has the highest incarceration rates for drug offences, and 70 percent of death sentences are handed down for drug-related offences.
Sarah Belal added that from November 2015 to July 2017, at least six Pakistanis were executed on drug charges in Iran.
“Amnesty for Pakistani citizens depends largely on forceful diplomatic representations made by the Pakistani government of Pakistan to the Iranian government,” said the human rights activist.
“We have no idea if any of the Pakistanis were included among those whose sentences have been reviewed. It is the duty of the government to find out,” she said.
Sarah Belal went on to say that as a regional ally of Pakistan, a prisoner transfer agreement with Iran must be negotiated. – NNI

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