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
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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.


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 22 September 2019

India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.