'Iran is a very important neighbor of Pakistan, and Pakistan and Iran have always enjoyed very good relations; and we are trying now to strengthen that relationship through [not only] trade [and] economic relationship but also at the political leadership level, ' Maleeha Lodhi told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Iran would not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory, much like Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Iran, he said, while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) yesterday, according to Dawn newspaper. Iran's handing of the port's operational control to India was disappointing for Pakistan and taking part in Chabahar may engender problems moving forward.
In November a year ago, India delivered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port.
Zarif sought to allay Pakistan's concerns about India's involvement in Chabahar by saying that the port project was not meant to "encircle Pakistan" or "strangulate anybody". The considerations go beyond economic gain because of the triad of relations between Pakistan and Iran, Iran and India, and India and Pakistan.
This is hardly the first connectivity project that Iran has tried to work out with Pakistan on board.
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Zarif also raised the issue of cooperation between the Chabahar and Gwadar ports during his meetings with foreign minister Asif and National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua. To underline this, he pointed to Pakistan's relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran's single major foreign policy irritant in its neighbourhood.
Chabahar is said to be becoming a success story in the India-Iran relationship.
India, Iran and Afghanistan had signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan.
During his three-day visit, Zarif has been pushing Pakistan to play its role in defusing the tensions in the region and contribute to materialisation of a new paradigm of "understanding and inclusion" that he calls "a neighbourhood paradigm".