Opportunities of cooperation between Iran, Pakistan and Turkey

2021/01/04 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online—Interview: An expert of the subcontinent issues says there is now an opportunity for Pakistan to return to the relations and cooperation it had in the past with Iran and Turkey within the framework of the regional cooperation organizations.

Pirmohammad Mollazehi told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that it is necessary for the three countries to promote relations and strengthen cooperation in view of the expansion of ties between Ankara and Islamabad.

“Iran, Turkey and Pakistan have a long history of cooperation with regional organizations such as CANTO and CITO which would provide a good experience of economic, commercial and political relations between the three countries.”

Mollazehi said the main variable today is the relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, adding that Pakistanis have so far had very strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and a rivalry with Turkey behind the curtain. However, these relations have slightly changed.

Referring to a series of problems created between Riyadh and Islamabad, he said the main problem between the two countries is presently related to the Saudi attack on Yemen upon the order by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

“Saudi Arabia had formed a coalition for this purpose and had placed Pakistan in the list of the coalition countries against Yemen with consulting with Islamabad. This caused serious differences between Nawaz Sharif the then prime minister of Pakistan and the Pakistan Army.”

Mollazehi said the Pakistani government referred the issue to the parliament that voted against the participation and presence of Pakistan in the Saudi coalition. Therefore, the plan devised by bin Salman to draw the Army of Pakistan to the war in Yemen faced a serious challenge in action as Pakistan refused to back Saudi Arabia.

He added that the Army of Pakistan is a strong army and could have changed the conditions of the ground in the Yemen war in favor of Saudi Arabia should it had joined the Saudi coalition against Yemen.

The other important issue which caused a dispute between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia was the issue of Kashmir. In that time, Indian Prime Minister Modi cancelled some of the provisions of the constitution concerning the power and authority of Kashmir as an autonomous state, turning it into a normal state like other Indian states.

“With such a decision, the sale and purchase of properties became free and the population combination could change in the disadvantage of Muslims. Therefore, Pakistan asked Saudi Arabia to hold an emergency meeting in Jeddah of the Islamic Cooperation Organization. Such a request was declined by Saudi Arabia.”

Mollazehi said since then, relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia became relatively severed, dragging Pakistan towards Turkey to compensate such a move by Saudi Arabia because the Turks were rivals of Saudis.

“In fact, the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood current believes that it possesses the Islamic pattern of power and Saudi Arabia which considers itself as the pioneer of pure Islam opposed Turkey.”

He added that Pakistan has now the opportunity to revive the relations it had in the past with Turkey and Iran within the framework of regional cooperation organizations.

He said it seems that Iran is also interested in joining this current, adding that geographically, Iran is the middle connector of Turkey and Pakistan.

“Islamabad here owns some commercial and trade tools needed by Turkey and Ankara has access to facilities required by Pakistan. Therefore Turkey and Pakistan can establish their trade links through Iran and through the railroad. The Zahedan- Quetta railway is now connected with the national rail grid of Iran which is linked to Turkey.”

According to Mollazehi, it seems that a better climate has been created for trilateral cooperation between Ankara, Islamabad and Tehran if we consider the recent developments and look at the issue from this angle.

“Given the one-belt one-road initiative of China which connects Kashghar with the Gwadar Port in Pakistan, China has heavily invested in Pakistan. China would also most probable enter into strategic relations with Iran. Therefore China also seems interested in joining such cooperation with Iran, Pakistan and Turkey .”

Asked about relations between Iran and China and the 400-billion dollar investment plan of China in Iran’s oil and energy sectors, he said this indicates that China is most probably the fourth side of the square of cooperation between Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.

Mollazehi said trilateral cooperation between Tehran, Islamabad-Ankara, the expansion of regional economy and trade and promotion of political relations can be discussed in view of economic cooperation.

“If political and economic cooperation is promoted among the three countries of this region, grounds would be also prepared for security and military cooperation.”

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