Public Talk on “Iran and its Surroundings” Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad August 10, 2016
There are many constructed perceptions regarding Iran which are mostly incorrect, but they are a part of reality and need to be addressed accordingly. The region in which Iran exits is the most complex one and there are many existing challenges related to economy, politics and security. A lot of literature is produced and many narratives are being introduced nowadays, most of them biased and un-related to the region. This was stated by Dr. Kazem Sajjadpour, Head, Centre for International Research and Education, Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran with the Status of Deputy Foreign Minister at a Public Talk on “Iran and its Surroundings” organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) today.
H. E. Mr. Mehdi Honardoost, the Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran was also present at the occasion.
Dr. Kazem Sajjadpour stated that he was in Islamabad as a professor and not as a diplomat. He affirmed that the region we live in is an extremely difficult one. In order to understand Iran’s relationship with its surroundings, Dr. Kazem presented a 3-step process which can be used to understand Iran’s foreign policy: talking about assessments; building blocks; and consensus on progression and cooperation. He went on to explain that Iran is a unique polity which is surrounded by 15 different neighbours, all possessing different strategic goals, security concerns, cultures and domestic politics. Iran is at the centre of them and it links the region in a distinctive paradigm. To understand Iran’s foreign policy, it is imperative to understand the dynamics of ‘building blocs’ that surround Iran. He emphasised that there was a unanimous consensus in Iran that security cannot be achieved without good relations with immediate neighbours. He reiterated the point that Iran is not an expansive power and that Iran is not an advocate of zero-sum game. He admitted that challenges do exist in this regard but efforts for good, cordial relations should never stop.
Dr. Kazem summed up his speech by appreciating Pakistan for its unrelenting support of Iran at regional and international forums. He expressed his pride in the structural strength of the bilateral relationship between the two countries and the efforts Pakistan has made to curb the menace of terrorism. He went on to state that relations between think tanks in Pakistan and Iran should be promoted and encouraged as they produce new policies and new ideas.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mehmood, Chairman Board of Governors of ISSI reiterated that Iran and Pakistan have always stood by each other in times of need. He admitted that trade is minimal, but due to the opening up of new vistas of cooperation in this post-sanctions era, the prospects for increased trade and commerce appear to be extremely bright and encouraging. He emphasized that the new ports of Chabahar and Gwadar should not be viewed as competitors from a negative lens, but should rather be seen as complimenting projects which will help the progress of all the neigbouring states. Ambassador Khalid Mehmood underlined that Pakistan highly values its cordial relations with Iran and is fully committed to strengthening ties and enhancing long lasting cooperation. He praised the positive roles being played by the current governments of Iran and Pakistan for having progressive visions of peaceful coexistence and cooperation regionally and internationally.
Muhammad Taimur Fahad Khan/ 10082016