TEHRAN, Dec. 30 (MNA) – Asad Qaiser, Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly, believes that “there is no competition” between Gwadar port owned by Pakistan and Chabahar port in Iran.
Gwadar is going to be operated by China and Chabahar by India. “It is our will to kick off cooperation between these ports,” Qaiser tells the Mehr news agency.
Following is the text of the interview:
Chabahar Port of Iran and the Gwadar Port in Pakistan are said to be complementary to each other. What kind of joint venture can take place between the two ports?
First and foremost, Iran is our friend and a brotherly country. Pakistanis love and consider Iranians their best friends. Fortunately, the two countries don’t have any disputes. The new government in Pakistan is determined to expand and deepen relations with the Iranian government and nation.
The project of Gwadar Port is a great opportunity for both countries. It is our will to kick off the cooperation between these ports in a way that both Pakistan and Iran would be able to take advantage of this opportunity.
To make China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in Gwadar more efficient and accessible to other countries and establish a connection between them, the cooperation of the two ports of Gwadar and Chabahar is very important. Both Iran and Pakistan are working out the necessary steps to move in this direction.
Gwadar Port serves as Pakistan's cooperation with China, and Chabahar Port between Iran and India. Some people believe that Chabahar Port is rival to Pakistan's Gwadar Port. What is your take on this please?
There is no competition between the two ports and generally there shouldn’t be any. In fact, Gwadar and Chabahar ports are great gifts from God and nature to both Iran and Pakistan. Therefore, it is necessary to make use of these ports wisely and based on a robust program which can benefit both countries in the long term.
In fact, the growth and development of one country does not create a barrier to the advancement of the other and usually it is complementary and necessary. Therefore, as the cooperation between Iran and Pakistan increases, the challenges in connecting these ports will be lessened and the road to progress will be smoother.
Pakistan has a new government in place. Has it come up with a new plan to launch and facilitate Iran-Pakistan Pipeline (IPP) project?
I had a meeting with Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s Majlis Speaker Mr. Ali Larijani on this issue, and will continue the talks until a solution is reached about the IP gas pipeline project. Pakistan’s embassy in Iran is also in contact with the Iranian government to convey the progress on completion of the joint Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
After taking office, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said in his speech that he would travel to Iran as his first foreign trip, but this has not been done yet. Is this trip going to happen any time soon?
Iran being a neighbor is of utmost importance to Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s position on upgrading relations with Iran is very clear. Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, visited Pakistan and the foreign ministers of both countries are in close contact.
In addition to this, a high powered Pakistani delegation came to Tehran to attend the Conference of the Presidents of the Six Asian Countries, which reflects Iran's importance in the context of Pakistan's foreign policy. Pakistan's prime minister's visit to Iran will also be realized in the future as the incumbent Pakistani government has a strong will to strengthen relations between the two countries.
What is Pakistan’s stance on Afghan-American Peace Talks with the Taliban and the Taliban peace talks in Russia?
The will of the Pakistan’s government is establishment of stability and security in all countries of the region including Afghanistan because stability in Afghanistan is tantamount to stability and security in Pakistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan will serve the interest of all countries in the region.
In addition, Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism for many years and thousands of Pakistanis including personnel from military, law enforcement agencies and civilians have lost their lives in fighting terrorism. Pakistan’s government has borne a lot of suffering due to the menace of terrorism. Therefore, the Pakistani government has called for the end of the war in the region and the elimination of elements that are vying to cause instability and insecurity in the region.
How can participating countries in the 6th Asian Leadership Conference (ALC) combat terrorism? What actions will the participating countries take in the conference?
In a statement issued at the end of ALC, the cooperation of the participating countries in the fight against terrorism was emphasized. Strengthening the economy and increasing trade relations between the six Asian countries were also on the agenda.
In these meetings, the participating states also try to bring the governments, parliaments and people of these six countries closer and provide an effective mechanism for promoting business and trade cooperation between the Asian countries.
Iran recently witnessed terrorist activity in Chabahar Port. Unfortunately, terrorist groups cross Iran-Pakistani borders to carry out their malicious terrorist activities. Has Pakistan devised any plan to deal with these terrorist groups decisively?
The occurrence of such terrorist incidents, both in Iran and in Pakistan, has always been condemned. As you know, such incidents also occur in Pakistan’s territory and a while ago, suicide bombers attacked Chinese consulate in Pakistan's Karachi. Thus, Pakistan, too, has been exposed to destruction and loss of lives due to terrorism and terrorist attacks.
Terrorism is the common foe of the two countries. Pakistani and Iranian officials, at the level of government and military, have had close and effective cooperation with each other on this issue. In addition, we seek to formulate an effective mechanism for resolving issues that exist on Iran-Pakistan common borders through the two states’ parliamentary cooperation.
Following the recent visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia, Pakistani authorities said that Riyadh has agreed to invest in a new oil refinery in Gwadar Port. Is it possible for Saudi Arabia to join China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?
Islamabad welcomes investments and partnerships with all countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Free Trade Zones offered under the CPEC project.
Interview by Banafsheh Esmaeili