Monday, January 12, 2015

Talking business: Balochistan suggests three border trading posts to Iran

By Shezad Baloch

January 12, 2015
Balochistan Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. PHOTO: APP

QUETTA: “Iran has heart-to-heart relations with Pakistan and wants to help build the infrastructure of Balochistan.”

These views were articulated by the Governor of Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iran, Aaqai Ali Osat Hashemi who held a joint press conference with Chief Minister Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch at the CM Secretariat here on Sunday.

He maintained, “The fourth visit of Iranian delegation during the last ten months is proof that Iran gives importance to Pakistan and is keenly interested in strengthening the bilateral friendship.”

The dignitaries informed the media about the two-day long visit of Iranian delegation to Balochistan during which Iranian officials met CM, Commander Southern Command, Home Secretary and businessmen from the Chamber of Commerce in Balochistan.

Hashemi said Iranian Baluchestan is also going through a change in terms of development, adding, “Iran is also willing to provide help in energy and technical sectors.” He added that the delegation thoroughly discussed border security. “Iran’s policy is to have better and friendly relations with Islamic countries. Iran considers Pakistan as second largest Muslim populated country in the world,” he remarked.

On the persistent border issues, the governor remarked, “History is evident that Iran and Pakistan do not have any law (and) order issue in their border areas. There are some miscreants between them who try to disturb Pakistan and Iran.”

Responding to a question regarding the frequent border violations by Iranian border guards, Hashemi said every country has a policy regarding their border security. Iran wants Pakistan to be safe from miscreants. “Our security check posts were attacked on several occasions and many border guards were killed while many had been kidnapped,” he mentioned.

“We had informed earlier and this time again about the incidents. Officials had discussed with the Pakistan officials that governments have to act to prevent Pakistan from terrorism. The miscreants are armed with sophisticated weapons. We have also made efforts to get back the bodies of martyred Iranian soldiers.”

On the common well-being, the governor said, “The two countries should work to improve the economy of the people living along the Pakistan-Iran border. They will play a key role to end smuggling and untoward incidents in bordering areas,” he said.

Iran has agreed to establish a marketplace between the two countries which would help boost trade and investment.

Hashemi stressed that a committee or group comprising officials from Iran and Pakistan should be constituted to ensure smooth implementation of projects recently inked between the two countries.
Chief Minister Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch thanked the governor and its delegation for their visit and interest in trade and investment. “We have proposed three more legal trade points like the one we have in Taftan border. 

These three trade points should be in Panjgur, Turbat and Gwadar. Balochistan government has also asked Iranian officials to provide 1000 MW electricity to the province while 100 MW to Gwadar.”

Baloch highlighted that four different committees discussed the issues of trade, investment and border security. “It is being hoped that all the projects would be implemented in letter and spirit.” He informed reporters that the committees would discuss the security situation and other issues again on January 27th and 28th.  “We will welcome Iranian investment in minerals, fisheries, and industries,” he said.

The CM said it is the wish of Balochistan government to enhance visits between universities, businessmen and governments of the countries. “Iranian universities should sign a memo with Balochistan University and recommend chairs at their universities for Balochistan and we would do the same. It will help strengthen the relationship and understanding between the people,” he concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2015.

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