A few days before Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Iran this weekend, its interior minister arrived in Islamabad to meet his Pakistani counterpart and pave the way for a smooth trip.
There has been some tension over the kidnapping of five Iranian border guards, four of whom were released. Iranian Interior Minister Abdolereza Rehmani Fazli had a protracted meeting with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday and a number of issues were discussed in a bid to resolve border issues.
Addressing a joint press conference after that, Mr. Chaudhry Nisar said the meeting would help raise relations between the two countries a notch higher and all areas of concern would be addressed including cross border terrorism, smuggling, human and drug trafficking and there would be greater intelligence sharing and coordination between the security forces and armed forces of the two countries.
The two countries have agreed to a special task force or a commission which would be finalised before Mr. Sharif visits Iran. The entire framework would be in place by then. Chaudhry Nisar said that Pakistan had no problems with Iran and the relations of the two countries should be reflective of the demands of the people who want good relations.
Mr. Fazli in turn said he had a good meeting with Mr. Sharif and the interior minister and important issues to promote security and economic cooperation were discussed. He said it was agreed to share intelligence, and have joint committees and visits to the border to carry out surveillance operations against terrorists, money launderers and drug traffickers.
He also suggested a trilateral meeting with the Afghan interior minister to increase the level of cooperation in Balochistan. It was also agreed to set up a hotline between the Frontier Corps on Pakistan’s side and the Border Security Force on the Iran side. A proposal is in the offing to have a hotline for the directors general of military operations of the two countries. However, Mr. Chaudhry Nisar clarified the issue of joint operations as mentioned by Mr. Fazli and said while there would be greater collaboration between the security forces, Pakistan would carry out operations in its own country while Iran would do the same on its side.
Mr. Chaudhry Nisar also said that there is no question of Iran violating Pakistan territory and the kidnapped border guards were not present in Pakistan. When asked about one more guard who was reported to have been killed, he said he would stick to his stand that the guards were not present in Pakistan and the question of the fifth guard doesn’t arise. Mr. Fazli too said Iran has never intended to interfere or violate Pakistan’s territory. The recent issue of the Border guards was resolved with the cooperation of Pakistan after the Iranian President called Mr. Sharif.