By Dr Shahid Qureshi – Chief Editor:
The recent statement of Pakistani Prime minister Imran Khan to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia is very well timely, appropriate and should be welcomed by all peace lovers for many reasons. For example, the constitution of Pakistan is non-sectarian, and it protects the rights of its all citizens including non-Muslims. It is important for the Prime Minister Imran Khan to have full briefing from all the agencies and foreign office before starting the mediations and run a spring clean-up into in his own ranks.
Pakistan is not a Sunni State by its constitution, but Iran is a declared Shia State by Iranian constitution and that makes Pakistan leader among the Muslim World.
Iran is a Shia State according to Article 12 of its constitution on the other hand Pakistan is Islamic Republic and its constitution does not specify which ‘fiqah’ (Islamic code of Jurisprudence) to follow as all are equal and has same rights.
Article 12 of the Iranian constitution States:
“The official religion of Iran is Islam and the Twelver Ja’fari school [in usual al-Din and fiqh], and this principle will remain eternally immutable…”
The other stumbling block in making peace among the Arab states and Iran is it following of the ideology of ‘Velyat-e-Fiqh’, which almost brings all the Shias in the world under the command of Iranian leader Imam Khomeinie. This exporting of Iranian revolution caused tensions in the Arab states and some African Muslim countries. That is the ideology behind Iranian forces fighting in Syria including five thousand Pakistani Shias and Yemen although some people believes that Russians have guaranteed Israel that they will keep Iranians three miles away from the borders. Some people believe that: “Iran was deliberately dragged into Syria and Yemen to full fill the US agenda of New Middle East, otherwise it is impossible for Iranians to cross in Syria via US occupied Iraq and supply arms to Yemeni rebels by ships by-passing the US Navy?
The support Pakistan receives from Saudi Arabia is enormous and there is no question about the brilliant relations between the two. However, Pakistan also wishes to improve relations with Iran both economic and political, but fact of the matter is that Iran also need to improve relations with Pakistan, simply calling brotherly Islamic county is not enough’.
Iranian Channel Press TV called me in February 2018 to comment on the handing over ceremony of the Chabhar Port to India in Delhi by the Iranian President. I said: “India is responsible to fanning sectarian violence in Pakistan as well killings of Muslims in Gujrat and Kashmir.” Sadly, the Iranian President only mentioned Palestine in his Friday speech and probably forgot to mention Kashmiri occupation and killings by the Indians”.
I said HE Hamid Baeidinejad Ambassador of Iran to United Kingdom at Kazakhstan National Day Reception in London last year, “the fact of the matter is that Iran’s trade with India is over $30 billion a year and trade with Pakistan is less than $2 billion although it has 700 km land and sea border. How can relationship improve between the two countries”? He very kindly invited me for a coffee which I have yet to avail.
Free Shia army of Iran in media, politics, academia and clergy in Pakistan is a problem because they provide the same services to other foreign entities with the ‘Liberal’ label or old left. Pakistan is a non-sectarian society and it has not subcontracted minority to Iran, or have they? So far Pakistan has very wisely and patiently dealt with the threats originating from Iranian soil starting from the operations in Chabhar by the Indian RAW Agent Kulbhushan Yadve to Uzair Balooch to destabilase Baluchistan.
Pakistan is liberal state when it comes to religious tolerance and harmony and that is why Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri said to his Iran counterpart: “Pakistani Shias are not like Sunnis in Iran”. Pakistan always say Iran as brotherly Islamic country. The important question is where Iran place Pakistan on trade, economy, military, Kashmir and foreign policy.
Obviously, Iranians have chosen to form a military and economic alliance with India apart from Indian Amy’s killings in Indian held Kashmir, demolishing of Babri Masjid and genocide of Muslims in Gujrat and Kashmir. Therefore, all is not moral and ethically up to the preached standards in the Iranian foreign policy.
The good thing about Iranian smartness is that they have been able to ‘plant and cultivate a powerful pro Iran lobby in Pakistan almost free of cost’. They are however, funding clerics and training certain terrorist elements of Pakistani society exporting them the theory of ‘Velyat e Fiqh’ which has its political and security implications as this does not recognise international boundaries or borders.
Pakistan did not object when Iran recruited Pakistani Shias to fight in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. According to Iranian General Retired General Mohammad Ali Falaki, who said: “We formed Shiite army to fight in Iraq, Syria and Yemen” “The Shiite Liberation Army is currently fighting on three fronts – Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he told Mashregh news agency, which is close to the IRGC, in an interview. He said Pakistanis have their ‘Zeynabioun’ militia group, Iraqis have their ‘Heydarioun’ while the Lebanese have Hezbollah.”
Read More: Iranian general: We formed Shiite army to fight in Iraq, Syria and Yemen
One must understand Pakistan economic and strategic interests: The running of Indian spying operations against Pakistan from Iranian soil in Chabhar and arrest of active service Indian Navy Commodore Kubhushan Yadave in 2016, which lead to the further arrests of over 473 agents of his network mostly members of Shia militant terrorist groups including two employees of Iranian Centre (Khana-e-Farhang Iran) Multan is very serious. Pakistan has a right to ask perfectly legitimate questions to Iran:
(a) Why Iran allowed Indian agency RAW to use its soil?
(b) why it allowed Indians to recruit mostly Pakistani Shias?
(c) it is very dangerous that Iran has allowed Pakistani Shia networks to be used by the Indians?
(d) Pakistani society is not sectarian and almost 3% Shias of Pakistan are living very happily with strong family bond and inter marriages.
One sided love with Iran is ‘harming and damaging’ Pakistan and that is only possible if self-harming leaders of Pakistan allow it to happen. For example, pro Iran Asif Zardari signed a very overpriced gas agreement with Iran. The price was agreed $12 per MMBTU and if you add pipeline rent it comes to $14 per MMBTU.
If we look at it in today’s prices it comes down to $10 MMBTU. Iran is not ready to review the agreement after Indian refusal to join in, although ‘reviewing’ is part of the agreement. How the hell one can even imagine. If this has happened in UK or USA, signatory would have been in prison by now. This is a day light robbery and sound like a pawn shop agreement by crooks in place?
In the world, open market same gas is available as much as $3 MMBTU. It seems that Iran is very confident that pro Iran Shia elements in the Pakistani establishment and system will allow this self-harming and damaging Agreement to continue.
A defense expert told me that: “In 1965 when war broke out between India and Pakistan as we were using same type of US made arms we sent an officer to request the Iranian to supply us just in case we run out as US has put sanctions on Pakistan. To our surprise Iranians started bargaining on the prices of arms we needed”. Not much changed since.
Over 2 million Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia and about 3 million in Sunni countries in Gulf and UAE and only about 25000 in Iran. Pakistani economic and strategic interests are predominantly in the Sunni world which cannot ignored due to sectarian policies of Iran?
Iranians have signed nuclear deal with the US and others and have restored diplomatic relations with UK. Over $30 billion India-Iran military and civil cooperation deal is obviously against Pakistan’s interests.
Indian infiltration and sponsoring of terrorism from Iran and Afghanistan cannot be ignored. Iranians have contracted Indians to build “Port of Chabhar” and also provided access to Indians from Iran to build roads and other projects in Afghanistan. If Indians and others successfully sabotage the Pak-China corridor project Iranian port will be direct beneficiary. On the other hand Pakistan army chief has “warned all and sundry that Pak-China project will be completed at all cost”.
Pakistan is Iran’s natural trade partner due to the land and sea borders but Iran’s trade with India is much higher.
“India’s oil imports from Iran top 500,000 barrel per day in 2016/17. India’s Iran oil imports jumped to a record high in 2016/17 topping half-a-million barrels per day (bpd) as refiners boosted purchases after lifting of some Western sanctions against Tehran last year. India, Iran’s biggest oil buyer after China, was among a handful of countries that continued to deal with Tehran despite Western sanctions over its nuclear programme. Refiners shipped in about 541,000 bpd of Iranian oil in the fiscal year to March, a growth of about 115 percent over the previous year, ship tracking data obtained from sources and data compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts showed.
In an interview with Hassan Nourian, Consul General of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hyderabad India, The Dollar Business explores current issues in the India-Iran bilateral relationship published in Financial Tribune on 6th April 2017.
What is the strategic significance of Chabahar Port for India and Iran?
India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a tripartite agreement last year during the visit of [Indian] PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Tehran, to develop the Chabahar Port into a transit hub. India has committed to a $500 million investment for the same.
Until 1947, Iran and India were neighbouring countries. Since the separation of Pakistan, India has not had a direct trade route connecting it with Central Asia and Afghanistan. Easy trade access to Central Asia is the prime strategic reason behind India’s investment in Chabahar Port.
Chabahar is not only an economically beneficial area but also an important strategic area. Through investments from countries like India, Iran hopes to bring about the development of many undeveloped villages and cities in the Chabahar region.
What are the supply-demand statistics of basmati rice in Iran?
Per capita consumption of basmati rice in Iran currently stands at 37–40 kg annually, or 104 grams per day. While Iran’s annual production of basmati rice averages 1.8 million-2 million tons, consumption is around 3 million tons. To fill in for this deficit between demand and supply, Iran imports rice to the tune of 1 million tons every year, mostly from India.
What is India’s share in Iran’s total import of basmati rice?
The quality of Indian basmati rice is ideal and suitable for Iranian consumption. As much as 700,000 tons of the Iranian annual basmati rice imports are sourced from India. Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and other European and Latin American countries account for the remaining 30% imports.
Iran has off-late cut down import tariffs on rice from 40% to 26%, to boost affordability. With the same objective, the Iranian government recommends a price cap of $850/ton for rice imports. Due to a drop in global prices of oil, India-Iran trade volume dropped from $13 billion in 2015 to $9 billion in 2016, despite an increase in the volume of oil imports by India from Iran.
More than 70% of the India-Iran trade are currently in crude oil. Rice, dal [pulses] and other edibles make up for most of the remaining trade volume. Iran would like to go beyond this traditional trade relationship and engage with India in advanced sectors like IT, aerospace, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.”
well the above interview is self-explanatory for the Pakistanis and those who are fallen in one sided love with Iran.
Pakistanis are open minded and non-sectarian and non-racist that is why they very stupidly allowed Sikandar Mirza’s second wife Naheed Afghamy an Iranian intelligence officer aka wife of Col. Afghamy Iranian Military Attaché to Pakistan, to become first lady of Pakistan. Since than Pakistan has never done any meaning full oil and gas explorations in Baluchistan? In 2016 on the other hand, Maynmar aka Burma did not allow political leader Aung San Suu Kyi to become the Prime Minister of the country because she was married to a British white man and her son is a British citizen lives in Cambridge.
Pakistanis have loved and allowed another Iranian born Nusrat Isphani (Bhutto) to become first lady of Pakistan and her daughter Benazir Bhutto twice prime minister of Pakistan. Although in 1994 Benazir Bhutto attempted to break up the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Agency) by firing 7 directors and 17 high level operatives from the ISI within three days according General Aslam Beg the former Army Chief. They were all Afghan experts. Although according to Abdul Bari Alatwan, editor of Al-Qadas newspaper: ‘Iran is the sole beneficiary of US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The most resistance and opposition against the appointment of General Raheel Sharif as head of Muslim Forces Alliance was coming from the pro-Iran and Pro -Indian lobby. We saw the full activation of all assets in media, academia and politics. The wave was so high and powerful that the security establishment could not believe the pressures and resistance.
Conclusion is that Pakistan need to run a cleaning and cleansing campaign inside and outside to clear out the pests and moles in rank and files before embarking on the mediation mission as one need to check its own back yard and friends first.
(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and chief editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Kazakhstan 2015 and 2016 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He wrote his MA thesis on ‘Political Thought of Imam Khomeini’ and visited Tehran University. He is PhD in ‘Political Psychology’ also studied Law at a British University. He also speaks at Cambridge University and visiting professor in Hebe University in China)
Views expressed are not of The London Post.