Iran ready for joining CPEC projects

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Interview with H. E. Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini  Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Author : Raja Aamir Mahmood Bhatti

Ambassador Hosseini gave an exclusive interview to Diplomatic Star magazine. The Ambassador talked about a variety of important issues including the developments after the Islamic revolution, opening of new border points to increase the trade, progress on gas pipeline, possibilities of cooperation between Gwadar and Chabahar, human Trafficking, the Idea of Pak-Iran and China as a new block and Iran’s position on recognition of Israel by Islamic countries etc. Here are excerpts from his interview.

Diplomatic Star: Iran is celebrating 42nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. What progress Iran has made during theses 42 years?

Ambassador:  Now, 42 years after the resounding triumph of the greatest revolution in the 20th century, the Islamic Republic has proved its efficacy in various domains in spite of all-out 8-year war, economic sanctions, political pressures and media hype. The Iranian nation pursued numerous objectives in their uprising against the despotic Pahlavi regime, which were summarized in three demands, namely, independence, freedom and Islamic government. The Islamic Republic is, no doubt, the greatest achievement of the Islamic Revolution in political aspect. Now, The Islamic Revolution became a role model for other nations who seek to come out of the yoke of domineering powers and determine their affairs independently.  In other scientific, cultural, military and economic fields, Iran has made great progress after the revolution, some of which I will mention. Restoring the original Iranian-Islamic culture, promoting literacy rates and increasing educational centers and universities, empowering women and increasing their participation in the development of the country, countering the cultural invasion of the West, reviving national identity and self-confidence are some of the developments in the cultural and social spheres.

Self-sufficiency in the production of products needed by the country, poverty alleviation, increase of business skills, job creation, improvement of the country’s infrastructure including road development, growth and expansion of cities, increase of refineries and promotion of petrochemical products and diversification of Non-oil products are examples of Iran’s advances in the field of economic growth and development. In the field of internal and external stability and security, despite the efforts of some enemies and insurgent regimes to create insecurity inside the country and near the borders of Iran, Iran enjoys unique stability and security. In the military and defense fields, relying on indigenous knowledge and without dependence on Eastern and Western countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved the ability to produce and export a variety of military equipment and conventional military weaponries.

Also, Iran now ranks 16th in the world and 1st in region in science production. Since the Islamic Republic of Iran has made an Impressive and undeniable progress in all branches of science and technologies like medical science and industry, advanced surgery, pharmacy, biotechnology, nanotechnology, infertility treatment, quantum knowledge, simulation and genetics, stem cell exploitation, aerospace technology and robotics by the efforts of its scientists and scholars. Besides, the Islamic Republic of Iran has made significant progress in the growth of science production in the humanities. More than 97% of the country’s science production in the field of humanities and social sciences is related to the post-revolutionary period and only 3% belongs to before the revolution. Simultaneously with the slight development of attention to the humanities, the localization and indigenization of these sciences according to the characteristics of Iranian-Islamic culture is one of the achievements of the Islamic Revolution to preserve and develop the identity of Iranian society and other societies in the Islamic world. For instance, in terms of the number of books published per year in the field of theology and religious sciences, Iran ranks second in the world.

Diplomatic Star: What impact has the Islamic revolution on the people of Iran, especially the youth and also other nations?

Ambassador:  Perhaps the most important impact of this revolution is increasing self-confidence in the Iranian people. The Islamic Revolution of Iran blocked the way for any foreign domination over the fate of the Iranian people and in this respect became a model for all freedom-loving nations of the world. As a result of the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, our nation and government have determined their destiny according to their will and have taken their own path in the current turbulent world by adopting an independent policy.

Increasing the role of faith in individual and social life and strengthening the Islamic-Iranian identity of the people is another important impact of this revolution. Before the Islamic Revolution, our youth had experienced a kind of identity crisis, and there was a perception in society that along with the import of products and achievements of the era of industrial modernization in the West, their culture and customs should be imported to the developing societies; But during the revolution, the Iranian people came to believe that they had to pursue indigenous development while preserving their national and Islamic identity.

The Islamic Revolution also had a tremendous impact on culture and cultural productions, including Iranian literature, poetry, music, television, film, and cinema. In the model of the Islamic Republic of Iran, our youth and women experienced an active presence in society, politics, art and industry while maintaining dignity and decency. Our women have followed in the footsteps of men in the development of the country and have surpassed some men in terms of education and employment. Our women, along with men, have taken steps towards the progress of the country and even have surpassed some men in terms of education and employment.

Diplomatic Star: Mr. Ambassador, please explain about the diplomatic relations between Iran and Pakistan. How do you assess the relations between the two countries? Also, what changes have been made in this regard during the history?

Ambassador:  Relations between the two countries are based on friendship, neighborliness and brotherhood. As you know, Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan’s independence and Pakistan was the first country to recognize and establish relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the value and importance of the friendly and brotherly neighboring country of Pakistan increased more than ever, and the promotion of relations becomes one of the priorities in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran and Pakistan have a huge capital, which is the historical relationship and cultural, religious commonalities, and especially there are commonalities between the two nations in literature and language of the two countries. Iran and Pakistan have very good relations in various political, cultural and academic fields that are expanding.

Diplomatic Star: How do you see the opening of Rimdan-Gabd border crossing and how it will affect the Pak-Iran trade?

Ambassador:  Second border crossing between Iran and Pakistan at Rimdan-Gabd region was officially inaugurated in December 2020 by H.E. Mr. Eslami, Minister for Roads and Urban Development of Iran and H.E. Ms. Zubeida Jalal, Defense production Minister of Pakistan. We welcome the development and boosting of the crossings and evaluate these measures in line with strengthening the security of the bordering areas, improving the livelihood of the border residents, helping to regulate trade and combatting against smuggling. Undoubtedly, the Rimdan border crossing will also be effective in developing economic and trade relations between the two countries.

Diplomatic Star: How many more border crossing openings are underway?

Ambassador:  In addition to the two existing active crossings, our plan is to open two more border crossings at Pishin and Kohak.

Diplomatic Star: How do you see the current development on Pak-Iran Gas pipeline and what you suggest to government of Pakistan regarding this?

Ambassador:  Status of the gas pipeline: The Islamic Republic of Iran has fulfilled a large part of its obligations regarding the completion of the gas pipeline and is waiting for the practical steps by the Pakistani authorities regarding this project. We view this project in the interests of both Iran and Pakistan.

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Diplomatic Star: Are you satisfied on current Pak-Iran Trade volume?

Ambassador:  At the moment the trade volume between the two countries is 1.3 billion dollars but it is not at the desired level due to some existing problems, including oppressive sanctions.  Bringing it to its potential and improving the volume of economic relations is one of our priorities at the embassy.

Diplomatic Star: How do you see the Ankara, Tehran, Islamabad Train project?

Ambassador:  This railway route is pursued in the framework of multilateral cooperation in the form of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). During the recent meeting of the Ministers of Transport of the ECO member countries, it was decided to activate this railway route in 2021.  Activation of this railway route will play a great role in the development of economic and trade cooperation between the three countries.

Diplomatic Star: Does Iran want to join CPEC? Any future enhancement of cooperation between Gwadar and Chabahar ports?

Ambassador:  The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes joining any plan that promotes regional economic convergence and benefits the people and countries of the region, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Islamic Republic of Iran evaluates CPEC in the first stage in favor of the people of Pakistan and China and in the next stages in favor of all the peoples of the region. That is why Iran has repeatedly stated its readiness to participate in this project at the highest level (the level of heads of government).

Prospects for bilateral cooperation between Chabahar and Gawadar: The two ports of Chabahar and Gawadar due to their geographical location have an important role in the economic development of the two neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan, and throughout the region. The Islamic Republic of Iran has good plans for the development of the port of Chabahar and is implementing them, and we are aware of Pakistan’s determination to develop the port of Gawadar.  In the approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the development of the two ports of Chabahar and Gawadar is not against each other’s interests, but can play a complementary role for the development of the entire region and the Makran coast. Islamic Republic of Iran Welcomes any plan and program which help in the development of Pakistan and evaluates it in line with strenthgening of security and collective development. We signed the sisterhood agreement between the ports of Chabahar and Gawadar many years ago, and now we have opened the Rimdan border crossing, which is located a short distance from these two ports. These actions show that the Islamic Republic of Iran view these two ports as development oriented through mutual cooperation.

Pak-Iran to open Pisheen, Kohak Border crossings after Rimdan-Gabd

Diplomatic Star: How the human and drugs trafficking between Pakistan and Iran be stopped?

Ambassador:  One of the harms and challenges on the border between the two countries is the phenomenon of trafficking in all its dimensions. The main way to deal with this phenomenon is to create a strong and lawful infrastructure on the common borders of the two countries.  Development and strengthening of border markets and promotion of official crossings is one of the most important approaches of the two countries in this regard. Completion of fencing project by the Pakistani side and joint security cooperation on the joint border has and will have significant effect on reduction of narcotics and human trafficking.

Diplomatic Star:  How do you see the issue of Iranian oil smuggling into Pakistan and how both countries can stop it?

Ambassador:  Trade regulation, the development of cross-border markets and the management of cross-border trade can prevent the phenomenon of trafficking. The two countries are interacting and cooperating in this regard.

Diplomatic Star: Can Iran, Pakistan and China form a new block in this region?

Ambassador:  According to the Islamic Republic of Iran, tripartite cooperation between Iran, Pakistan and China is a favorable mechanism for the development of trilateral cooperation in various fields.  We welcome the formation and development of such an approach and evaluate it in the interest of the nations of the three countries

Diplomatic Star: How do you see the suspension of Twitter account of Ayatollah Khamenei by Twitter on directions of US?

Ambassador:  This step is ugly and abominable. It seems even more ugly when it is done by those who claim freedom of speech and thought.

Diplomatic Star: How do you see the restoration of ties between Qatar and Saudi Arabia?

Ambassador:  Efforts to reduce tensions show that a nation cannot be isolated and forced to accept illegitimate and extravagant demands by threatening and imposing sanctions.  The Islamic Republic welcomes the elimination of misunderstandings as well as the strengthening of convergence among the countries of the region, and the regional plans it has presented like “Hormoz Peace Endeavour” are all based on this strategic goal.

Diplomatic Star: How do you see the time to time border tensions between Iran and Pakistan?

Ambassador:  The border incidents, which are designed and carried out by separatist and terrorist groups with the support of some enemies of Iran-Pakistan relations, are unpleasant for both countries.  The determination and joint efforts of the two countries will further narrow the recurring of such.

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Diplomatic Star: It is a perception that Iran and Saudi Arabia are having their proxies in Pakistan countering each other as well as both the countries are funding religious  schools for their gains , how do you see it?

Ambassador:  Iran does not believe in proxy actions and considers any attempt to divide the Islamic Ummah contrary to regional stability and security. Pakistan’s security is Iran’s security and stability and peace in Pakistan has always been supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Diplomatic Star: As numbers of Muslim countries are recognizing Israel, how does Iran sees this?

Ambassador:  The recognition of Israel’s racist and apartheid regime and the normalization of relations with this occupying and terrorist regime is against the interests of Islamic countries and the Islamic Ummah, as well as in contradiction with the long-standing commitments of Arab and Islamic countries to support the Palestinian cause; and the First Qibla of Muslims and Al-Aqsa Mosque and people of Palestine under the oppression and aggression of Zionist regime.

Diplomatic Star: How do you see the Saudi Arabia led military alliance, in which the ex-army chief General Raheel Sharif is part?

Ambassador:  The Islamic Republic of Iran has stated at the onset that there is no military solution to the Yemeni crisis, and that the use of peaceful and fair diplomatic methods between the various Yemeni groups is the only solution to the Yemeni issue. Military actions against the Yemeni people have left tens of thousands dead, wounded and homeless, destroyed many mosques, hospitals and educational centers, deprived many children and women of the right to life, and caused a widespread humanitarian catastrophe in the country.  The international community expects a cessation of arms shipments as well as a ceasefire for this devastating war.

Pakistan’s security is Iran’s security, Iran does not believes in proxy actions

Diplomatic Star: How do you see the resumption of nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA?

Ambassador:  The party that started the wrong and destructive path towards the nuclear deal and subsequently withdrew from it and forced others to withdraw from the deal, is American regime. It is America that must reform its destructive and bullying approach. The lifting of all oppressive and illegal sanctions against the Iranian nation and the United States’ adherence to its UNSC commitments will be the only way to secure JCPOA.

Diplomatic Star: Does Iran want to hold fresh talks on nuclear deal or prefers to continue old agreement that was suspended by Donald Trump?

Ambassador:  The nuclear agreement of JCPOA signed after 12 years of negotiations among P5+1 requires no new negotiations. The key to JCPOA success is the commitment of all parties to its provisions.

Diplomatic Star: Is Iran curtailing the role of Indians into their projects? Like recently in few projects the Indians were ousted?

Ambassador: Projects agreed between Iran and other countries are defined on the basis of common tasks, commitments and interests.  Therefore, the process of cooperation will continue when this basis is respected by the parties to an agreement.

Diplomatic Star: Both the countries Pakistan and Iran use to allege each other for the use of their soil against each other? Your comment please?

Ambassador:  Neither Iran nor Pakistan has a plan or will to use its territory against the other side and will not allow any country to take action against these two neighbors, friends and brothers.