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Iran-Pakistan Ties on Brink after Khan's Ouster

Iran-Pakistan Ties on Brink after Khan's Ouster

Tuesday, 26 April, 2022 - 10:00
Former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP)

Iran is concerned that the progress it has made in bilateral relations with Pakistan may evaporate with the ouster of prime minister Imran Khan.

Iranian experts expect new Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif to pay a visit to Iran soon as part of a revision of his predecessor's foreign policy.

Pakistan is geopolitically significant to Iran in spite of the clash of interests and political stances over regional and international issues.

These differences were highlighted in wake of the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan, Iran's signing of a strategic cooperation agreement with China, Iran's nuclear deal, American sanctions, and the Iranian Quds Forces' plans to expand its reach in the northern Indian Ocean and its backing of the Shiites in Pakistan, through the Zainebiyoun militia.

These issues pose a risk to the strategic balances of the decision-makers in Tehran.

Iranians are divided over the causes that led to Khan's ouster. The conservatives blamed it on international factors, while few have spoken about regional and local causes.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards media blamed the United States, an accusation it has made before in regards to government changes in Pakistan.

Some media reports have also said that the crisis in Pakistan will persist after Khan's exit from the scene.

Security and regional developments had taken the spotlight between Pakistan and Iran since Khan came to power. The Guards have frequently come under bloody attacks by opposition factions in Iran's volatile eastern Baluchestan region.

Iran sought to contain the situation by signing security and trade agreements with Pakistan covering the 900-km long border.

The neighbors have since opened several border crossings and set up joint markets to confront security challenges. It has apparently paid off, with less instability being reported in the region.

In spite of this perceived improvement, Iranian experts believe that with the exception of some security and political breakthroughs, Khan's government had not really developed economic relations with Tehran.

They believe that a government change in Pakistan will not lead to radical and strategic changes in relations with Tehran.

There are no differences between Iran and Pakistan, said one analyst, describing relations as strong, in spite of some tensions that may occasionally emerge, and predicting that the ties will continue in the same vein.

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