TEHRAN, Dec. 06 (Press Shia Agency) – Ambassador of Pakistan has said Mehr News Agency that his country has never used military power to settle the dispute in Kashmir.

Pakistan is one of the Muslim countries and neighbors of the Islamic Republic of Iran which shares a long history and huge cultural commonalities with Iran. Mehr News International Desk correspondent has sit for an interview with Mr. Asif Durrani, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Tehran. We have discussed regional issues including recent conflicts on Pakistan-India border, Pakistan and Turkey relations, commercial and economic relations of Iran and Pakistan, and the implementation of the gas pipeline project between the two countries, reviewed the regional changes and also the relations between Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan.

Ambassador Asif Durrani, who is from Quetta in Pakistan, speaks Pashtu, Urdu, Dari and also Farsi with a sweet accent. The ambassador of Pakistan joined his mission in Tehran 4 months ago. Earlier he was ambassador to UAE. With 30 years of experiences in the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan, Mr. Durrani had previously fulfilled a mission as the first secretary in a 4-year term 18 years ago at the Embassy of Pakistan. Earlier he served in Pakistan’s missions in Afghanistan, India, England and the United Nation.

Asif Durrani is well familiar with the culture and civilization of Iran and wants to promote the relations of Iran and Pakistan in all fields. Here is our conversation with him:

After the removal of international sanctions against Iran, what changes have been made in the commercial and economic relations between Iran and Pakistan?

It has been very heartening that the international sanctions imposed on Iran have been lifted and we must congratulate Iran for being successful by holding negotiations. We hope that problems associated with the implementation of JCPOA will be resolved soon.

 Iran and Pakistan have good relations in commercial field but after the international sanctions, the trade between the two countries decreased. Before the international sanctions the trade between the two countries was 1.5 billion dollars and during sanctions the trade volume fell to 500 million dollars. It is hoped that after the removal of sanctions, trade between the two countries would increase substantially.

Mr. Rouhani had a visit to Islamabad in March and held talks with Mr. Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan. The two sides agreed to increase the trade transactions of the two counties.To increase the trade transactions, there are banking problems and issues, and the bank officials are trying to tackle these hurdles. The central banks of the two countries are in contact and it is hoped that these barriers would be removed soon. Traders and businessmen of the two countries have shown great interest to increase the trade. H.E Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran, had a visit to Islamabad in March and held talks with Mr. Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the two sides agreed to raise their trade to 5 billion dollars in the next five years.

We consider our relations as very important. Both can enter into fruitful cooperation through trade. Pakistan is negotiating much needed electricity with Iran. Pakistan has signed the gas pipeline agreement, as it badly needs energy and Iran can meet its demands easily. We could not complete the gas pipeline project because of sanctions on Iran as no international company was willing or would invest in the pipeline project. However, now the situation has changed and work on pipeline would start soon.

In the textile and knitting sector, Pakistan had good performance and exported textile and clothing products and earns revenues.Pakistan, in addition to supplying the needed rice to Iran, can export the engineering, industrial and agricultural items as well as medical and surgical equipment. Moreover, Pakistan exports surgical equipment to the western countries as well. Pakistan manufactures world class sports goods and gears for international brands. In the textile and knitting sector, Pakistan had good performance and exported textile and garments throughout the world.

I hope that since Iran and Pakistan have always enjoyed friendly relations, these relations will continue to grow further in the future as well. Both countries should step towards a free trade and increase their trade transactions.

What are the impediments on the way to implement the peace pipeline between Iran and Pakistan and when this pipeline will be operational?

Due to the International sanctions against Iran, no company was ready to invest or participate in the bid for construction of the gas pipeline project. After the removal of sanctions, the government of Pakistan has negotiated with a Chinese company for the construction of the pipeline and hopefully work on the pipeline will be carried out soon. It is hoped that by the end of 2018 the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project will be operational.

Iran and some regional countries showed their interest to join China-Pakistam Economic Corridor. Can any other countries in the region including Iran join the corridor?

China aims to have access to the markets of Middle East and North Africa through Pakistan and since Mr. Rouhani and Mr. Nawaz Sharif highlighted the importance of connection between Chabahar and Gwader ports, Iran can play an important role in this significant economic project.

In recent days, we are witnessing conflicts on the border of Pakistan and India in Kashmir. What is the reason of such conflicts?

After the independence of Pakistan, India unlawfully entered Kashmir and occupied a large part of this Muslim majority state. Then, the opposition of Kashmiris against the government of India began. The government of India took the Kashmir dispute to the UN Security Council. Since the partition plan envisaged that Muslim majority areas would accede to Pakistan and Hindu majority areas to India, it was but natural that Jammu and Kashmir would join Pakistan. But, India breached the partition agreement and contrived an agreement with the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir to annex the state to India. Based on this shady agreement, Kashmir was claimed as its territory by India. After the revolt in the Kashmir state, this issue was brought to the UN Security Council by India which accepted the decision of the Council to hold a plebiscite in the state. But, India initially dilly dallied and later refused to hold plebiscite in total disregard of the UN resolution. UN resolutions on Kashmir dispute were made from 1948 to 1967 and all stress settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

Currently, two important issues are on the UN Security Council’s agenda, one is the issue of Palestine and the other is Kashmir, and both states are considered occupied. We see that people are not satisfied with the current condition in Kashmir which is why there are frequent uprisings in the state where Indian state repression continues unabated to suppress the voice of the Kashmiris to submission.

Pakistan has never used military power to settle the Kashmir dispute and seeks for a diplomatic solution.Pakistan always has tried to settle the Kashmir dispute through peaceful and diplomatic means.  Pakistan has never used military power to settle the Kashmir dispute and seeks a diplomatic solution. Pakistan is one of the party to the dispute and if India is thinking to put Pakistan under pressure by using state terrorism in occupied Kashmir, it is utterly mistaken.

After the death of Borhan Muzaffar Wani in Kashmir by Indian security forces, people of Kashmir reacted to the action of the Indian security forces. More than 200 thousands of Kashmiris participated in his funeral. Even in the funeral procession, Indian security forces killed and injured many people. For the first time, Indian security forces used pellet guns to blind the people for life.

More than 150 Kashmiris have lost their eyesight due to pellet guns while over 700 are partially blinded. Such brutal tactics can have drastic and deadly outcomes. Since 8 July 2016, Indian security forces have resorted to suppress the civilians in Kashmir by force. The people of the occupied state have not stopped their protests; they call it the “Second Intifada”.

After an attack on the brigade headquarters of Indian army forces in Uri Kashmir, India called it a terrorist act and blamed Pakistan for it. However, it might be possible that India itself had orchestrated such an act in order to divert world’s attention on Indian atrocities against the innocent Kashmiris.

Pakistan is one of the victims of terrorism in the region and around 70 thousand people have been the victims of terrorism in the last decade.India must know that it cannot put Pakistan under pressure by starting shootings on the border. Only solution to Kashmir dispute is peaceful negotiations. On the other hand, since India and Pakistan are nuclear countries in the region, they must take measures to contain the situation from further aggravation.

The head of the Zionist regime has visited India in last few days and has stated in his meetings with Indian officials that the Zionist regime is planning to celebrate the anniversary of their 25-year relations and this has provoked some Muslim Indians to protest. Would you give some explanations in this regard?

I cannot comment on this matter as India is an independent country and can have diplomatic relations with any country. In fact, the Indian government used to be a supporter of Palestinian cause, but in recent years it has changed its position towards the Palestine issue. The policy of India in the region reminds the English expression of “Running with the hare and hunting with the hounds”. On the other hand, India is one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement, but it seems it doesn’t play a significant role among the non-aligned member states.

If there are 1 billion poor people in the world, half of them are living in India.  Indian intransigence would only increase the poverty of its people.

Last week Turkish president had a visit to Pakistan and delivered a lecture in the Parliament of Pakistan. How will be the relations of Pakistan and Turkey in different fields?

When in 1920s, the “Khilafat Movement” was started in the subcontinent, the Ottoman dynasty was under pressure from the world powers. Muslim women of the subcontinent sold their jewelries to support the Ottoman Caliphate against British aggression. Muslims of the subcontinent and Turkey have relations much before the independence of Pakistan.

Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan, and we always remember this gesture. Similarly the people of Turkey have never forgotten this historical support of the Muslims of the subcontinent for the Ottoman Khilafat.

We are proud of our relations with Turkey. Both countries have always stood by each other on various issues. We are grateful to Turkey for always supporting the just cause of the Kashmiri people. 

What is your opinion about making peace and stability in Afghanistan and also Iran joining the negotiating countries on the issue of Afghanistan?

There are many tensions and insecurities in Afghanistan and all the negotiating parties agree that we must do something to stabilize the current situation in Afghanistan and for a permanent peace in the region. After the 11 September, the use of military power in Afghanistan intensified the insecurities. Pakistan has accepted more than 3 million Afghan refugees in last 37 years, among which half of them are still living in the country illegally.

It cannot be certainly said that Daesh has been succeeded to find a place in Afghanistan.Taliban have some bases in Afghanistan from where they carry out their activities. China’s joining the Peace Talks for Afghanistan is a positive development. Iran is one of the neighbors of Afghanistan and if it joins the negotiations it can contribute to improving the situation.

The government of Pakistan wishes that the problems in Afghanistan should be resolved by its own people through peaceful talks.

 On the existence of Daesh in Afghanistan, it can be said that some factions of Taliban are active in Afghanistan under the name of Daesh. But, it cannot be said with certainty that Daesh has established its bases in Afghanistan.

What do you like about Iran? And have you been outside Tehran ?

I love and adore Persian carpets. On my second posting to Iran, I first travelled to the Imam Reza shrine and had a meeting with the Governor General of Razavi Khorasan. After that, I went to Tabriz city and in recent days I had a visit to Sistan and Balouchistan and the cities of Chabahar and Zahedan. In this visit I also met the Governor General of Sistan and Balouchistan. From there I went to Gwadar, Pakistan. The purpose of this visit was to explore the possibilities of expanding the commercial and economic relations between the two neighboring countries. Another objective of visiting Sistan and Balouchistan was to promote border trade.

Interview by Ali Kavoosi Nejad