By Shaikh Moazzam Khan
Pakistan and Iran both are two pivotal states in the Muslim world. Both countries have a long history of bilateral cooperation in different fields including defence. Iran was the first country who recognized Pakistan as an independent state after the partition of sub-continent. Besides this, Iran supported Pakistan on different occasions. In the economic domain, Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is the practical demonstration of bilateral cooperation. The positive thing of their bilateral ties is that these ties are not linked with any political party these are state to state relations. On the issue of terrorism and extremism, Iran and Pakistan collaborated with each other to eradicate border threats and improve border mechanism.
Despite the cooperation at military and governmental level, both counties have indulged in tug of war at different occasions where Iran accused Pakistan of backing anti-Iran sentiments across the Pak-Iran porous border. Iran claims that Pakistan is backing Jindullah group to carryout attack against Iran. But the fact is that the allegations levelled by Irani government are mere myth and kept no substantial material. It is true that various extremist groups are working proactively to ruin Pak-Iran cooperation and bilateral relations. These groups are attacking Pakistan and Irani security forces to create further mistrust between the bilateral relations of both countries. But, Iran must investigate the attack against its forces before blaming any country and specific group.
Pakistan always stood firmly with Iranian government against the any move to impose sanctions against Tehran due to its nuclear program. Pakistan asked United States to deal with Iranian through dialogues. Pakistan rejected the US policy of maximum pressure against Tehran, which shows Pakistan’s pivot towards Iran. But unfortunately, despite these positive steps by Pakistan, a few people within the Iranian establishment are not acknowledging Islamabad’s resolve. These people are also misguiding Iran political and military elite to execute anti-Pakistan rat.
For example in the recent past, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has funded a movie in Iran “ Shabi Keh Mah Kamil Shud” (When The Moon was Full). The movie’s underlying message shows Pakistan a low–life country with rampant support for anti-Iran Jundullah Group (specially in Quetta / Baluchistan and Sistan). Theme revolves around a couple who in a bid to reach Europe, escape Iran and reach Pakistan where they encounter Abdul Malik Rigi and are killed by him in the end. The said Film also tries to justify Iranian operations against Pakistan due to Islamabad’s support to anti-Iranian elements. The film received wide coverage in Iran and won the best Iranian movie award. An USA’s company has bought screening rights in of the said movie in USA and Canada. After seeing this Iranian anti-Pakistan activity, it is not false to say that Irani government is still involved in activities which are against Pakistani interests. Iran is not reciprocating in a positive way and maligning Pakistan instead. Iran is assuming itself a regional power and visualize Pakistan as a spoiler and that’s why it is having healthy ties with anti-Pakistan elements. This Iranian move also demonstrates Tehran’s future cooperation and foreign policy dimensions with Pakistan.
While fuelling anti-Pakistan sentiments and accusing Pakistan of anti-Iran actors, Tehran must not forget that Pakistan arrested Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadev who confessed his close links with Iranian intelligence community. He caught red handed while sabotaging development in Baluchistan. At the time of his arrest, he was having valid Iranian visa. This is the only one dimension of Iranian support to anti-Pakistan players.
Beside this, a number of terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s civil, military and individuals have their traces leading to Iranian soil. Those terrorist attacks were planned in Iran with the support of some Iranian groups. On contrary to Iranian close bonding with Pakistan’s enemies such as India and Afghanistan, Islamabad have never joined anti-Iran alliance and instead launched its efforts to resolve Tehran’s issue with US and Saudi Arabia through peaceful means. Pakistan refused to join war in Yemen which was likely to pave the way for sectarian division between Muslims. In recent years, Iranian bonding with India increased to strategic extent which paved the way for Indian influence in the region.
Iran has failed to show any restraint in narratives, policies and actions when it comes to Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan always discourage sectarianism. Pakistan remained neutral during the conflict with Iran and Saudi Arabia. This Pakistan’s move annoyed Saudi Arabia but Islamabad’s stance remained firmed. After that Pakistani gesture, Iran refused to initiate border mechanism with Pakistan. So far, no enthusiasm has been shown by Iran for better border management with Pakistan.
At the end I would like to conclude by saying that Iran must change its attitude and policy towards Pakistan. The government in Tehran must ensure not happening of anti-Pakistan activity at the cost of bilateral ties. Any documentary against Pakistan must be stopped from airing and shouldn’t happened again in future. By keeping in view cultural and religious ties, Irani govt should come up with more positive step to enhance its existing ties with Islamabad.