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Islamabad (Staff Reporter)As a way forward to further cement their relations, Pakistan and Iran today decided to constitute a high level task force under the supervision of the Interior Ministers of the two countries for identification of mutual areas of concerns and to recommend measures for effective redressal of those issues besides further strengthening the security cooperation between the two countries.  

The two sides also reaffirmed their commitment to work hand in hand for achieving shared objectives and for ensuring peace and security in the region. It was agreed to enhance mutual cooperation in the area of security with greater interaction among law-enforcing agencies and intelligence sharing for effective border management, controlling trans-border crimes including drugs trafficking and human smuggling.

This understanding was reached during meeting of the Interior Ministers Ch. Nisar Ali Khan and his Iranian counterpart Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli here at Punjab House Islamabad.

The two leaders discussed whole gamut of Pak-Iran relations specially focusing on existing level of cooperation in the area of security, the mechanism of interaction among the law enforcing agencies of the two countries, shared challenges and the way forward in removing irritants and further strengthening mutual interaction.

Welcoming the visiting dignitary, the Interior Minister observed that the Government and the people of Pakistan greatly value their friendly ties with Iran that draw their strength not only from the geographical proximity alone but also from our religious and cultural affinities. The Interior Minister said that we must never forget that the two countries not only share borders but our concerns and destinies are intertwined and interlinked. He said that we must never lower our guards against those who will never miss any opportunity to sow the seeds of distrust among the two brotherly countries. We must join hands in neutralizing those elements and work hand in hand for peace and socio-economic development of our people.

The Interior Minister underscored the need for further strengthening the existing mechanism for effective monitoring and management of porous Pak-Iran border. He said that loopholes in border management provide an opportunity to criminals as well as those who wanted to create instability in our countries and the region.

The Iranian Interior Minister reciprocated the sentiments of the Interior Minister and said that there was need to make greater efforts for securing mutual interests of the people of the two countries.

Discussing trans-border crimes including the menace of drugs and human trafficking, the Interior Minister observed that the Government of Pakistan has been making serious efforts to curb human trafficking. However, continued the Minister, we need to make greater and joint efforts in effectively controlling this crime that is committed through land routes. The two sides agreed to further strengthen their cooperation in effectively checking the menace of human smuggling.

The two leaders also discussed way forward in further cementing the mechanism of intelligence sharing and maintaining liaison among the law-enforcing agencies of the two countries.

The two sides also agreed upon the need for early implementation of all mutual agreements in the area of security. There was unanimity of views on the need to further improve security atmosphere in the adjacent areas of the two countries especially in those areas where the developmental activities are being undertaken.

Regional situation also came under discussion. The Interior Minister reiterated that Pakistan has abiding interest in the security and socio-economic development of the region and is making sincere efforts for ensuring lasting peace in the region.

Pakistan and Iran have agreed to remove non-tariff barriers in bilateral trade and enhance the current level of trade facilitation at the borders to prepare ground for a Free Trade Agreement. Minister of Commerce of Pakistan, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan and Minister of Mining, Trade and Industry of Iran Engr. M. Reza Nematzadeh held bilateral meeting and addressed the trade and investment session of the Pak-Iran Joint Business Forum.

The two ministers termed the signing of 5 Year Strategic Trade Cooperation Plan 2016-2021 as the beginning of a new era which provides a great opportunity for the people of two nations to enhance economic cooperation to new heights.

Speaking at the Forum the Mr. Dastgir said that the proposed measures to increase bilateral trade include start of negotiations on Pakistan-Iran Free Trade Agreement, holding of single country exhibitions in each other’s country, visits of delegations to/from Iran, removal of non-tariff barriers, regular holding of meetings of Joint Border Trade and Joint Trade Committees, reactivation of Joint Business Council, opening of additional international border crossing points and establishment of border markets.

Ministry of Commerce on its part is exploring various avenues to enhance bilateral trade to $5 billion in five years, in accordance with the vision of the top political leadership of the two countries.

Mr. Nematzadeh informed the audience that Iran will hold a trade and investment exhibition in Pakistan in September this year. He said that the private sector of two countries should take lead in strengthening bilateral relations in all sectors and fora.

The two sides agreed to work on issuing long-term multiple-entry visa to business persons of two countries. The two sides agreed that increase in direct air flights between two countries will boost the prospects of trade especially trade of perishable items.

In the bilateral meeting Mr. Dastgir said that trade in agriculture, engineering and mineral sectors offers tremendous scope and building partnership by giving priority to enhance Trade in Services would add real value to bilateral economic ties.  He was of the view that Pakistan and Iran are ideally placed and capable enough to complement each other. The prospects of export of services are far greater in transportation, financial, communication, insurance and IT fields, he said.

The Iranian minister expressed their desire to participate in the privatization program of Pakistan and invest in entities in which Iran has expertise and efficient management systems.

Mr. Nematzadeh was of the view that majority of the issues of the traders will be resolved with the implementation of TIR Convention whichPakistan has acceded to in recent past.

Pakistan was offered facilitation in transit through Iran for trading with the Central Asian Republics and especially with Russia where the demand of food and agri-products is increasing.