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Pakistan-Iran to set up Joint Rapid Reaction Force

23 April, 2019

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Pakistan and Iran on Monday agreed to boost security cooperation and set up a ‘Joint Rapid Reaction Force’ to fight terrorism and guard the common border between the two countries. Leadership of both the countries also agreed to further strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties.

Prime Minister Imran Khan while speaking at a joint press conference with Iranain President Hassan Rouhani said both the countries will not allow terrorists activities from each other’s side and that security chiefs of the two countries will discuss ways of cooperation. The prime minister expressed the hope that both the countries will not allow their soils to be used against each other.

“This government of Pakistan for the first time is taking action against any militant group in the country and this is not being done over any outside pressure, it is a decision made through consensus across the political spectrum that we will not allow our soil to be used by anyone against anyone,” the prime minister said. “In the last 12 to 13 years, Pakistan suffered a lot from terrorism where 70,000 of our people lost their lives in terrorists activities. We are much lucky than Afghanistan which despite NATO’s strength and Afghan security forces could not tackle militancy as Pakistan did,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said a few days back 14 of Pakistan’s security personnel were killed by terrorists in Ormara, Balochistan, adding that he knew Iran had also suffered from terrorism. He said that four decades of war in Afghanistan has affected both Pakistan and Iran, adding peace in Afghanistan is in the interest of both the countries. “We will cooperate with each other in helping political settlement of Afghan issue as peace in the war-torn country will help both Pakistan and Iran,” he said. “Once there is peace, there will be trade in the region and it will bring prosperity to the people,” he added.

About the Palestine issue, the prime minister said a great amount of injustice is being done to the Palestinians. “The illegal occupation of Golan Heights by Israel, making Jerusalem its capital and violating the international law, will lead to further uncertainty in the Middle East,” he said. “Similarly, the United Nations Security Council resolution about Kashmir clearly says that the people of Kashmir shall be allowed to decide their own destiny. However, unfortunately in the last 30 years, the brute Indian forces are oppressing the Kashmiris. Over 70,000 people have been killed by the Indian occupation forces in held valley. The only way is dialogue and political settlement and not the use of force,” he said. “Once the Kashmir issue is settled, the whole sub-continent will move forward,” he added.

The prime minister said his visit will certainly be a turning point to further strengthen relations between Pakistan and Iran. He also extended invitation to President Rouhani to visit Pakistan, which the latter accepted.

Imran Khan said in 1972, he saw a big difference between the rich and the poor in Iran but now he has seen that Iran has become a very egalitarian society and all this has been possible due to the Iranian Revolution. “The revolution I want to bring in Naya Pakistan is to end the difference between the rich and the poor,” he added.

Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran is determined to strengthen ties with Pakistan and that no third country can harm their brotherly relations. He said during his talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan, they discussed border security and agreed that any group which is involved in inhumane activities will be treated as terrorist. He said both the countries have agreed to intelligence cooperation in border areas and to set up a Joint Rapid Reaction Force to fight terrorism and guard the common border.

Rouhani said the two sides have agreed to expand trade and commercial ties, and take necessary measures to connect gas pipeline to Pakistan. Iran is ready to increase electricity export to Pakistan tenfold, he said, and added that import and export balance can be ensured as both the sides have agreed to set up a barter committee to exchange goods by the two countries. He said Chahbahar and Gwadar ports will be connected through railways network to benefit the people of the two countries.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at Saadabad Palace in Tehran where both the leaders held extensive talks on bilateral, regional and international issues.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in the health sector. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani witnessed the signing ceremony.

As Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the Saadabad Palace, an official welcome ceremony was held in his honour. President Rouhani received Prime Minister Imran Khan and a guard of honour was given to the visiting dignitary.

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