Yesterday In a pivotal roundtable session titled, “Pak-Iran Relations Amidst the Threat of Broader Conflict,” hosted by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), prominent figures delved into the complex geopolitical landscape involving Pakistan, Iran, and India. Conducted by PICSS Managing Director, Mr Abdullah Khan, the session brought together key figures including Ambassador Khalid Mahmood Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Iran, Lt General Naeem Khalid Lodhi(retd) Former Defence Minister (Ct) and Faraz Naqvi in charge of the Iran Program at the Institute of Regional Studies Islamabad.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood emphasized the enduring challenges faced by Pakistan as a battleground for proxy conflicts, particularly involving Shia-Sunni proxies. The relationship between Pakistan and Iran, despite occasional strains, remained resilient for many years. However, post-1979 witnessed a downturn driven by sectarian factors, with suspicions emerging in Iran regarding Pakistan’s potential alignment with American imperialism.
Lt General Naeem Khalid Lodhi discussed recent geopolitical developments, including the improvement and subsequent strain in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Tensions resurfaced due to the Hamas attack, impacting ties with Arab states. The intervention of China, Turkey, and Russia added a diplomatic dimension to the complex scenario. The swift escalation and de-escalation hinted at a potential disconnect between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the political government.
Faraz Naqvi provided insights into Iran’s governance model, characterized as a theocratic republic with a unique blend of nationalism, revolutionary ideology, and pragmatism. Examining recent events through the lens of pragmatism, he outlined potential motivations behind Iran’s actions, including retaliatory responses, signalling capabilities to Israel and the West, and preemptive action due to concerns about Pakistan joining a U.S.-led naval coalition.
Mr Abdullah Khan echoed concerns over historical instances where Iran violated Pakistani sovereignty. Unlike past responses, Pakistan chose assertive measures this time in response to Iran celebrating its actions. Ambassador Khalid Mahmood presented two possible trajectories for the future – a potential “new normal” characterized by confrontations or an alternative perspective emphasizing increased collaboration, cooperation, and intelligence sharing to collectively address common challenges.
As the roundtable concluded, the enduring and time-tested nature of Pakistan-Iran ties was recognized, highlighting the need for diplomacy and collective efforts despite occasional challenges, akin to occasional family issues not overshadowing the overall strength of the relationship.