Iran and Pakistan's relations and CPEC - Seeker's Thoughts

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Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Iran and Pakistan's relations and CPEC


Iran and Pakistan’s relation has been evolving with time. The relationship between the two states deteriorated after the Iranian revolution, the ties improved when the two countries signed the free Trade Agreement in 1999.
Iran-Pakistan-in world map
Image Credit- wikimedia

Both states have come together for the purpose of bringing in Afghanistan and to overcome terrorism in the South Asian region.
Their bilateral relation holds great potential in terms of boosting energy trade between the two, developing border security mechanism, and for addressing the glaring problem of religious extremism in Pakistan.
 It has been observed that the religious extremism in Pakistan society and the perceived discrimination against Shia has been one of the main bones of contention between the two wherein a concerted effort and a joint plan is required by the two states to address this issue.
In 1985, the Economic Cooperation Organization was established by Iran, Pakistan and turkey to promote economic, technical, and cultural cooperation among the member states. ECO is the successor organization of Regional Cooperation for Development which remained in existence since 1964 up to 1979.
In 1992; the organization was expanded to include seven new members, namely: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
At present both countries are forming alliances and cooperating with each other on mutual interests. The interests include the fight against terrorism, illegal cross border movements, drug trade and the Baluchistan insurgency.
Iran has also shown a great interest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for economic and trade collaborations.
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CPEC and Baloch Insurgency
Pakistan’s economic resurgence seems to be extremely threatening. Trade through the china Pakistan Economic Corridor has partially begun, further upping the excitement surrounding the $50 billion mega project.
But what’s this for the impoverished province of Baluchistan? After all, despite being home to Gwadar port, the crown jewel of CPEC, the province’s share in the CPEC bounty is mere 0.5 %

What does CPEC do?
CPEC delivered the socio-economic opportunities in the suburb and urban areas. The Global times reported that CPEC is aiming to provide 2,320,000 jobs till 2018.  Various estimates projected that the project aims to create around 400,000-700,000 jobs during the period of 2015-2030. The project itself is self-sufficient to elevate the standards of living of the working and under-privilege segment of the society.

While in colonial times there were only developments for the better and efficient transportation of the goods for the trade which were directly benefitting the colonial empire rather than the social fabric.
The local labour was only used for exploitation during colonial times whereas CPEC include vast profile of jobs for locals including professional, technical, administrative and skilled based jobs.
Another fact which negates the idea that CPEC is a colonial instrument is that the debt which is due on the Pakistani government is only USD 6 billion including interest in soft loans and the rest is foreign direct investment and grants.
Route of CPEC is more likely to be path to prosperity. The economic ties of Pakistan with china will not only help Pakistan’s economy but also Pakistan’s stature in the international community. It is not to be misunderstood that development at the time of colonial powers was only for the elites rather than the local community while in contrast to CPEC, it is giving ease to the very lower division of the society.
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Security threat between Iran and Pakistan
Pakistan is facing problems in its security domain due to the insurgencies by the Baloch separatist organizations alone the Iran-Pakistan border.
Pakistani security officials view all these happenings as a deliberate act of Indian intelligence to destabilize Baluchistan and deteriorate the situation of law and order in the province. The geostrategic location of Baluchistan has gained significance with the initiation of CPEC that aims at Gwadar as the trade hub in region and to develop industries in Baluchistan.
Meanwhile India is trying to strengthen its lies with Iran and is economically involves in the development of Chabahar port which is generally seen as India’s strategy to counter china’s [influence in the region.

Recently India formally took over operations of the Chabahar port. Iran needs India more than before, in the backdrop of the new round of American sanctions. India could persuade the U.S to exempt Chabahar from these sanctions as the port related to reconstruction assistance and economic development of Afghanistan.

Why Pakistan-Iran relation is fell apart in past?

Pakistan and Iran tried to improve their collaboration till recently with mutual visits and offers on cooperation in missile technology. Iran also expressed interest for branching the gas pipeline has already built on china-Pakistan economic corridor CPEC at Gwadar and to connect Chabahar to CPEC too.

India and Iran relations

India and Iran have shared a long term historical and economic relationship. Energy resources play a decisive role in the contemporary world politics and are considered as the driving tools for economic growth and development of the country. Iran’s vast energy resources and India’s growing energy demand make the two states natural economic partners. Iran’s attracts India for its large reserves of oil and gas. By forming a trust and interest based economic relation with Iran, Pakistan can hope to form long-term coalitional that are not undermines by the unpredictable history of Pakistan and India.

Iran and Pakistan’s joint border reaction force

Iran and Pakistan have agreed to set up a joint border reaction force following to counter the increasing number of deadly attacks by militant groups on their frontier.

Border rapid reaction force would be set up for combating terrorism since increased tensions over attacks on both sides of the frontier is causing having causalities.

The Iran-Pakistan border skirts the volatile southeaster Iranian province of sustain Baluchistan which has been the scene if frequent attacks on Iran’s security forces. Iran-Pakistan relations have been strained in recent months and both sides have been accusing each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border. Hence together with increasing cooperation between border forces and intelligence agencies, both nations have decided to form a joint quick reaction force in the border of the countries for fighting terrorism.

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