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.