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With Eye On India, Pakistan Strengthens Military Ties With Iran

23 3 0
06.12.2019

The low-key coverage by the Pakistani media on the 2-day visit of the army chief General Qamar Bajwa to Iran notwithstanding, the event signifies a surge in the tempo of ‘mil-to-mil’ exchanges between the two countries.

The Iranian side gave the event a distinct political coloring with the Pakistani COAS having meetings with President Hassan Rohani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, apart from talks with his host, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri.

Border security and counter-terrorism are key issues for Iran. But Gen. Bajwa’s talks extensively covered regional developments and even dwelt on the two countries’ “coordination on the major issues of the Muslim world”. The Iranian reports did not make any references to the Kashmir issue or India-Pakistan tensions, but it is inconceivable that Gen. Bajwa sidestepped the topic.

Without doubt, the Iranian reports uniformly underscored Tehran’s high expectations that a new phase of Iran-Pakistan relations may be commencing

In fact, even as Gen. Bajwa headed for Tehran on Monday, Pakistan conducted training launch of surface-to-surface ballistic missile Shaheen-1, a day after India conducted the first night trial of its Agni-II missile.

The Iranian news agency IRNA took note that the launch of Shaheen-1 “aimed at testing the operational readiness of Army Strategic Forces Command, ensuring Pakistan’s credible minimum deterrence.”

The Pakistani army spokesman tweeted that Gen. Bajwa discussed with Rouhani the “regional security environment and matters of mutual interest”. According to the Iranian agency IRNA, Gen Bajwa told Rouhani that Pakistan was prepared to strengthen bilateral relations “in all spheres”.

Rouhani, in turn, hailed Pakistan’s role towards regional peace and called the relations between the two Muslim nations as “an invaluable asset” which should be used to further boost mutual cooperation. The Iranian reports quoted Gen. Bajwa as saying Pakistan and........

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