Senate of Pakistan

Minutes of the Meeting

December 4, 2012

Minutes of the Second Policy Seminar of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production

December 4th, 2012

Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services

Pakistan and Iran in a Changing Regional Scenario

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed Chairman Senate Committee on Defence and Defence Production.

Distinguished Guest Speaker:
His Excellency Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

(i) Mr. Khalid Mahmood  
(ii) Mr. Agha Murtaza Poya
(iii) Senator Saeeda Iqbal
(iv)Senator Sardar Ali Khan
(v) Senator Maulana Shirani

The session was preceded by a recitation from the Holy Quran

1. Chairman Mushahid Hussain Sayed opened the proceedings with a note of welcome, especially for the honourable delegation from Iran.  He explained that the purpose of this seminar was to openly discuss the issues pertaining to defence and foreign policy between the two countries. He invited the first speaker, Mr. Khalid Mahmood, former ambassador to Iran from Pakistan.

2. Mr. Khalid Mahmood began by describing the reasons for the tense relations between Iran and Pakistan in the 1990s. These tensions, he explained, were driven by the rise of the Taliban, the disturbed Baluchistan border, and the eruption of sectarian violence in Pakistan in which Iranian diplomats were killed. However, he noted, that the current situation was different and the presence of the Iranian delegation depicted the shining resilience of the bond between the two countries.

He believed that Iran and Pakistan should collaborate to ensure peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and applauded the recent trilateral meeting between Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. He stated that the triple vein of military, terrorism and sectarian violence continued to stump the region. He suggested that Pakistan and Iran not only co-operate on trade and currency swaps, but also create a mutual bilateral strategic co-operation, especially in the case of the Baluchistan border. He explained that the brotherly ties between the two countries predated the creation of Pakistan and these relations deepened after the creation of Pakistan, and should be further strengthened in the future.

The second speaker, Mr. Agha Murtaza Poya, characterized Iran and Pakistan relations as multifaceted. He believed that since both the countries were Islamic Republics, Allah and His Prophet (SAW) would guide the two nations. He affirmed that unfortunately the two Islamic Republics faced the wrath of the unholy trinity: Yankeeism. Zionism and Brahmanism. He expressed his belief that Allah would help if the two countries confronted these threats.

Senator Saeeda Iqbal, highlighted the intimate relationship between Pushto, Farsi and Urdu. She expressed her gratitude towards, Mr. Esmaeli for translating Benazir Bhutto’s autobiographies into Farsi and encouraged women from both countries to walk in the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto, in fighting for their political rights

The last speaker, Senator Sardar Ali Khan, stated that the two committees met in an environment of political instability in the region, made worse by the ill-conceived policies of the West.  He complimented Iran on its tough and resilient foreign policy towards these nations.

3. Mr. Alaeddin Boroujerdi expressed the deep endearment and solidarity that existed between the two nations. He reasoned that since the two countries’ security was interlinked they should work together to establish Shia-Sunni unity. He underscored the importance of the IP gas pipeline, which was nearly complete in Iran. The Iranian Parliament, he confessed, was dissatisfied with the economic and trade status with Pakistan. He, however, acknowledged the recent visit of President Ahmadinejad to Islamabad as a step in enhancing relations.

He highlighted Iran’s technological achievements, citing the creation of their satellite. He revealed that Iran had also successfully brought down an American drone and through reverse engineering would create similar drones. He affirmed Iran’s commitment to the struggle of Islamic communities regardless of their sectarian belief such as Hamas, Hezbollah and PIJ.  He highlighted the Israeli threat and the need for the two sects to cooperate and align their aims. He postulated that if the crisis in Syria were a revolution by the people it would have been successful, and instead suggested a political solution.

He concluded by clarifying that Iran had no intentions of creating and using a nuclear bomb. He stressed that there was no need for war, but a need to establish an equal balance of power with the United States and Israel.

4. The floor was then opened for questions and comments.

Mr. Mateen Haider raised the concern of religious threats from groups that were receiving funding from various Arab states and Iran. Mr. Ali Sarwar asked about Iran’s intentions regarding the future of Afghanistan post 2014.  General Talat Masood was interested in Syria and Iran’s influence with the government to prevent civil right violations and was also interested in the nuclear site in Khardi. Ms. Tahira Abdullah raised the issue of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Pakistan’s territory.

5. Mr. Alaeddin Boroujerdi responded that Pakistan and Iran should work together on a political level for security in the region. He believed that the Afghan solution was for the Muslim countries to unite and fight together. Concerning Syria, he argued, that no other country would allow any rebel group to assume control and stressed electoral reforms as a solution.

In relation to the Khardi site, he clarified that Iran had to go underground because of Israeli threat, but they had had visits from several reporters at the site. In regards to the proxy war in Pakistan, he responded, that it was CIA funding, to create dissension amongst the Muslims.

He concluded by expressing his gratitude for the guests who had attended the seminar.

6. Senator Maulana Shirani appreciated the candid discourse and proposed a similar dialogue on the military side as well. As far as Baluchistan was concerned, he stated, that they should create a united Islamic front. He restated that this sectarian war was no proxy war, but the people of Pakistan were pawns of some foreign forces. Pakistan, he emphasized, needed to assert itself against these forces.

7.  Chairman Mushahid Hussain recapped that Iran’s defence strategy had no room for an atom bomb and that the Iranian philosophy was based on principles and not on any religious denominations. He also highlighted Iran’s technological achievements, especially in bringing down the American drone.

He stressed that Iran and Pakistan had no conflict of interest and both countries desired peace in the region, especially in Afghanistan. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for Iran’s nuclear program and the IP gas pipeline. He concluded that Pakistan and Iran’s relationship would be forged through economic, security and diplomatic ties.   

The hearing was attended by representatives of academic institutions, think tanks and media

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