Pakistan to benefit from China’s strategic deal with Iran: Mushahid

ISLAMABAD – Chairman Senate For­eign Affairs Committee Senator Mushahid Hus­sain Sayed has said that Pakistan stands to ben­efit from China’s expect­ed strategic deal with Iran and India’s exit from Chabahar projects.

Chairing a webinar on ‘China’s Expanding In­vestments in Iran and Pakistan: Prospects of Trilateral Cooperation’ which was hosted by Is­lamabad Policy Institute here on Wednesday, Sen­ator Mushahid said, “Chi­na’s entry into Iran with strategic partnership and Indian exit from Chah­bahar will help secure our Western borders and strengthen China Paki­stan Economic Corridor.”

The webinar was held to study the potential im­pact of the 25-year eco­nomic and security pact between China and Iran, whose 18-page draft was leaked earlier this month in media. A final agree­ment is expected to be signed by the two coun­tries in March next year. Chinese and Iranian ex­perts also participated in the webinar.

Mushahid said de­velopment would have “far-reaching” impact and China could be a bridge between Pakistan and Iran in terms of pro­moting their coopera­tion.

He noted that a major benefit of the develop­ment was that the pos­sible threat to Gwadar from Indian presence in Chabahar would no lon­ger be tenable.

He said Pakistan and Iran enjoyed “strategic confluence” of their in­terests – peaceful and secure borders without each other’s territory being used by non-state actors to destabilize ei­ther neighbour; region­al economic and trade connectivity via BRI/CPEC; cultural connectiv­ity through the common heritage of religion, his­tory; durable peace and stability in Afghanistan; opposing hegemonism, sectarianism, terrorism and extremism; and re­jecting a ‘New Cold War’ in the region.

Iranian envoy Sayyed Mohammad Ali Hossei­ni, in an OP-ED for IPI’s website, whose excerpts were read out at the webinar, said the com­prehensive document, which was still being fi­nalized, would provide a framework for “long-term and strategic co­operation in all political and economic fields and in an equal and fair ap­proach.”

The ambassador said iran  was ready to ex­tend its cooperation with China to other friendly countries in the region in a regional mechanism.

Senior Fellow at the Center for West Asian and African Studies, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, Dr Jin Liangxiang, while speaking at the webi­nar, said that China-Iran deal could benefit all three countries – Chi­na, Iran and Pakistan through energy coop­eration, construction of pipelines for transport­ing Iranian oil and gas to China, and improved market access.

He called for building trilateral mechanisms for promoting the pros­pects of cooperation. He also warned of challeng­es in this cooperation in­cluding trust-building between the three coun­tries and possible sabo­tage by a “third party”.

Prof Dr Foad Izadi of University of Tehran said that progress to­wards a strategic coop­eration pact between China and Iran pre­sented an opportuni­ty for trilateral coop­eration between the three countries, which had common concerns and common goals. He said he was foresee­ing a trans-Himalayan pipeline from Iran to Western China through Pakistan. He said the ar­rangement was logical because China would get secure and reasonably priced energy supply for decades, Pakistan could earn transit fees, and Iran would get an alter­nate route to deal with American maximum pressure policy. “Iran cannot find better part­ners than China and Pa­kistan,” he added.

Executive Director IPI Prof Sajjad Bokhari said China-Iran agreement, once implemented, could alter the regional landscape in which there would be opportuni­ties for all stakeholders in the neighbourhood – though extra-region­al actors may lose space to act here. He said the Pakistan government needed to prepare well to benefit from this op­portunity.

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