UNDERSTANDING IRAN-PAKISTAN RELATIONS

By Sattar Rind

Persian, now Iran’s, history goes back to the Iron Age – the world’s oldest continuous major civilization, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 4000 BC, at least.

Iranians are assumed to be Aryan and lived in the existing central Asian steppe area. In ancient history they had observed different emperors. However, Cyrus the Great was the first Persian Emperor in history who embraced all the previously civilized states of the ancient Near East and vastly expanded Persian rule and made part of the existing Iran. It was the largest empire that had ever been seen in this world.

Seleucid emperors were the next to Cyrus, then the Parthian and the Sasanians who governed Iran for more than a thousand years.

Following the Sasanians, Iran once again unified as an independent state in the fifteenth century, this time from a Sufi saint family from Azerbaijan, a person named Ismail, who politically manipulated his followers – the Shiite militants Qizilbash, and had captured Tabriz and declared himself as Shah of Azerbaijan, becoming founder of the Safavid Dynasty in July 1501.

Since then this dynasty never looked back and ruled Iran until the Islamic revolution of Imam Khomeini on April 1st, 1979 ended their rule forcibly exiling the King Raza Shah Pahlavi from Iran.

At their peak the Safavid Dynasty ruled and controlled all of modern Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, as well as parts of Turkey, especially Anatolia, Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the existing Afghanistan and Pakistan up to Indus valley.

His followers, Qizilbash, preferred to be called the ‘army of Haider’ – a name of Hazrat Ali – the first Imam of Muslim Shiites. Thus they developed Shiite Islam as the official religion of the empire which marked a great turning point in Islamic history.

However, the new Islamic state of Iran and its spiritual leader Imam Khomeini was the first head who enhanced more militancy in an already militant Muslim sect but was intolerable for the Arabs as they were for centuries rivals of one another.

But mostly it was the Arabs – being tribal oriented they used to taunt and hate civilized people. It is a trait of tribal people and could be observed still today in the same situation.

Iran undoubtedly has a great rich heritage – art, poetry, music and collective manners. They always remained proud to their civilization and history – what great philosopher Friedrich Hegel termed them “the first Historical People.”

Perhaps due to this or many other reasons, the Arabian people for centuries never liked the Iranians. It is not a secret but an open fact. It is even being said that the Iranians became Muslim, but in their own way. It was not ‘Arabized’. The Persian remained Persians. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i-Ajam.

Again this conflict and rivalry went in opposite directions to each other on the issue of the Islamic sect. The Shiites are the second largest Muslim sect in the Muslim world. Nevertheless in this conflict Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab worsened at a great level, especially if we look at a concise history then we could not forget the massacre of Karbala, believed to be led by the Al-Saud leader Abdul Aziz Ibn Al-Saud, the son-in-law of Ibn Wahhab.

He damaged Imam Hussain’s tomb (the Grandson of Muhammad (PBUH) and son of fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali of Muslim history), it is claimed, in return, one man killing him by a stiletto in revenge.

For the existing Pakistan, Iran was the first country that accepted Pakistan as a sovereign state and never went against one another. They developed the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which later changed into the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and widened with many other Central Asian countries as members.

Both countries when required supported each other either locally or internationally. As Iran was a natural ally and was given the status as ‘Most Favorite Nation’ for trade purposes, both helped each other in wars, in different ways. The relationship within the countries though remained very cordial but reached its peak in the days of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

However in the Zia era even if both countries never intended to damage one other at state level, a resentment was for the first time noticed in the relationship between the two.

The reason was obvious in that Zia was the ultraconservative and very close to the Wahhabi school of thought and perhaps was the first Pakistani ruler of such mentality who tried to be part of the Saudi Arabian ideology and impose the same ideologue in Pakistan fearing the new Islamic revolution of Imam Khomeini may influence the people. It was him who sent 40 thousand army personnel to defend Saudi Arabia from the internal and possibly external threat in 1980, although it was condemned as an act and not accepted by the people of Pakistan, even including army personnel within the ranks.

Zia however was claiming the Iranian revolution as Islamic but he was the person who had created sectarian groups, protected and enhanced them to kill the Shiite Muslims in Pakistan. This could still be observed today. It is believed that when Zia met with Imam Khomeini in Iran he tried to recognise his role for Islamic service but Khomeini, without caring for diplomacy, snubbed Zia that he knew him and was the puppet of Saudi rulers, playing an important role on their behalf killing Shiite Muslims in Pakistan.

Following this Zia started believing that it would be better for him not to give any space to expanding Shiites in Pakistan. Another factor was also involved that somehow most Shiite communities or almost all were supporting Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto either directly or indirectly.

Whatever happened in the Zia era in the recent past or what is currently going on against the Shiite people in Pakistan, one thing it is very clear and important to note is that the people of Pakistan, from the depths of their hearts, are not interested in being part of any proxy war against the natural ally and neighboring country Iran. This is something every ruling authority in Pakistan knows.

Therefore on each occasion in the past, Pakistan has been a very close ally to the US and Saudi Arabia, but has never opposed Iran. In the recent action of Saudi Arabia killing a Shiite leader, Nimr al-Nimr, a spat between Iran and Saudi spread throughout the world, most Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCC) disconnecting diplomatic ties with Iran. But for Pakistan it would be impossible due to the people of Pakistan, as it would be difficult for security reasons.

The Balochs of Balochistan have been fighting for their independence since 1948 and have a long history of fighting against the Pakistani army. The total bordering area of Pakistan is connected with Iran from the Balochistan province. There is also a Baloch province in Iran. In the past, and especially in 1974 against the Baloch insurgency, Iran helped Pakistan giving guns, helicopters and fighter jets to curb such an uprising.

If Pakistan decided to go against Iran it could be possible that Iran supports Balochistan. We know the proverb ‘Enemy of the enemy is a friend’. Shiite Muslims are the second largest sect and cover more than 20% of the populace of Pakistan and would be aggravated by this, no Pakistani leader being in a position to provoke them. Thus it will be observed there is no possibility a Pakistan leader will stand up for Saudi Arabia, openly at least. However, it is said that only God knows the secrets of the inner core of the soul.

Courtesy & Thanks » Tuck Magazine
Read more » http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/01/12/understanding-iran-pakistan-relations12172/

 

Pakistan will not send ground troops as part of Saudi-led military alliance: Aziz

BY DAWN.COM

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, on Tuesday said Pakistan will not send ground troops to Saudi Arabia or any other country after having joined the 34-state Islamic military alliance led by Saudi Arabia.

In a briefing to the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee at the Parliament House, Aziz said all matters between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been settled.

He said Pakistan will be sharing intelligence with Saudi Arabia to counter terrorism.

Aziz told the committee that Pakistan is playing its role to diffuse tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1232480/

F-16 sale delayed in US Congress

BY ANWAR IQBAL

WASHINGTON: The US Congress has stalled a planned sale of eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, although the Obama administration is still trying to undo the hold, congressional and diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The hold reflects the growing anti-Pakistan sentiments on Capitol Hill where it is now a routine to see strong attacks on Pakistan and its policies during congressional hearings.

Lawmakers used clarification and information notices to delay the sale. The administration also received a “hold” notice from the Senate, using this legislative process to delay floor action on the proposed sale to Pakistan.

Read more »DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1232401/

The China – Pakistan Economic Corridor: India’s Dual Dilemma

By Sajjad Ashraf

The Chinese commitment to invest US$46 billion into Pakistan is driven by two main considerations. China’s current $4 trillion foreign trade and 7 million barrels of daily oil imports are largely dependent upon sea-lanes that can be choked by competing powers. Convinced that the U.S. is seeking surrogates to contain its rise, China is seeking alternate and less vulnerable routes. Second, China has finally decided that its troubled but reliable (even dependent) friend, Pakistan, has problems that can best be handled by investing in its power sector and infrastructure development. In the process, as a part of its larger One Belt, One Road (OBOR) strategy, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) gets a priority because this is the only network that connects China to the Arabian Sea –shortening its maritime distance with the energy rich Persian Gulf market by over 10,000 kilometers.

Kalrkahar, Chakwal, Punjab.

The extent of China’s commitment betters the US$12 billion (estimated to be $120 billion in 2015 dollars) Marshal Plan used to rebuild several European countries after World War II. Some on-going Chinese aided projects are now incorporated into the CPEC. This large infusion of capital, if utilized properly, can potentially change the regional power equation.

Read more » China U.S. Focus
See more » http://m.chinausfocus.com/article/3719.html

Rangers raid The Nation resident editor’s house

Rangers officials raided the house of Salman Masood The Nation’s Resident Editor in Islamabad earlier this morning looking to search the premises. The officials arrived without any documents or warrant and said that a “terrorist search operation is underway”. A civilian man among the officials said he is from the “intelligence” without revealing his identity. The officials reiterated that it was a routine search operation.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/12-Jan-2016/rangers-raid-the-nation-editor-s-house