Iranian minister visits Pakistan but support from Islamabad likely to be limited

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmoud Quraishi greets his Iranian counterpart Jawad Zarif in Islamabad. Zarif’s visit came days before the expected arrival of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Pakistan. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad)
Updated 31 August 2018

Iranian minister visits Pakistan but support from Islamabad likely to be limited

  • Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is first foreign dignitary to visit Pakistan since new government took over
  • His trip comes days before the US secretary of state is due to arrive in Pakistan, on Sept. 5

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif concluded a two-day official visit to Islamabad on Friday. While Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi publicly declared the country support for Iran’s “principled stance” over the 2015 nuclear deal, after the withdrawal of the US from the agreement, analysts said that Islamabad might not be in a position to provide Tehran with the support it has promised.

In addition to Qureshi, Zarif, the first foreign dignitary to visit Pakistan since the new government took over, also met Prime Minister Imran Khan, National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser and army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“Welcoming his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi noted the potential for strengthening the already strong bilateral relationship,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Referring to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal between Iran, the P5+1 countries (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the US and Germany) and the EU, which was signed in 2015, Qureshi said that Pakistan supports “Iran’s principled stance.”

US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement this year and announced the re-imposition of economic sanctions that had been lifted as part of the deal. However, experts believe that Pakistan might be unable to support Iran as it has promised.

“Islamabad does not have that political clout, and Pakistan’s own relations with the US are hanging with a fragile thread that could break any moment,” said geopolitical analyst, Qamar Cheema.

During his meetings, “Zarif discussed the expansion of cooperation with Pakistan in different fields of common interest, including economy and social relations,” the Foreign Office said. In addition, security collaboration along the troubled Pakistan-Iran border, military cooperation and counterterrorism were among the key issues he discussed with the Gen. Bajwa.

Zarif’s visit came days before the expected arrival of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Pakistan on Sept. 5. US-Pakistan relations remain frosty due to a deep and longstanding trust deficit, but mindful of the country’s alleged influence over the Taliban, the US has not imposed sanctions and continues to engage with its estranged ally despite the strained relations.

However, the administration in Washington has kept Islamabad under mounting pressure, in an attempt to force it to comply with its demand for action against the militants who have consistently thwarted American peace efforts in Afghanistan.


Pope Francis hosts historic meeting of Higher Committee of Human Fraternity

Pope greeted the members and heads of the secretariat of the committee and presented the members with a copy of the Document on Human Fraternity. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 min 32 sec ago

Pope Francis hosts historic meeting of Higher Committee of Human Fraternity

  • The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity consists of religious, educational and cultural leaders from across the world
  • The Committee expressed its gratitude to Pope Francis for his welcome and thanked the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb for his encouraging words

DUBAI: The first meeting of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was recently hosted by Pope Francis at the Vatican, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

The inaugural convening of the Committee brought all members of the newly-established, independent body together. The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, first announced in August, consists of religious, educational and cultural leaders from across the world who are inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together that was signed in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, during the pontiff’s visit in February this year.

The meeting focused on establishing the organizational structure and mandate of the new body, as well as endorsing its independence as an advisory committee empowered to progress the goal of peaceful coexistence. The Pope greeted the members and heads of the secretariat of the committee and presented the members with a copy of the Document on Human Fraternity. He then expressed words of gratitude and commended the group as “artisans of fraternity”, encouraging them to be at the origin of new policies “not only of outstretched hands but of open hearts.”

After being received by the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, Edgar Peña Parra, the committee returned to Casa Santa Marta to start its work. The Committee expressed its gratitude to Pope Francis for his welcome and thanked the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb for his encouraging words.