Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Iran–Pakistan relations

The Iran–Pakistan relations (or sometimes as "Iranic-Pakistan relations) refers to historical, bilateral, cultural and international relations which dates back to the common prehistoric Indo-Iranian heritage (which connects all of Greater Persia with the Indo-Aryan civilization of the Indus Valley) from 3000-2000 BC and the Indo-Parthian and Indo-Scythian kingdoms of antiquity to the strongly Persianized Islamic empires in South-central Asia and the Greater Middle East in the 13th to 19th centuries.
The region of Pakistan also represented the easternmost Satraps (provinces) of Persia and these Pakistani Satraps (Provinces) were amongst the richest and fertile in Persia. Many old and historic buildings in Pakistan have Persian writing on them. There are also many Persian ruins spread across the country and there is a significant number of buildings still standing from the Persian era. There is a long history of contact and mutual influence between the two nations, with significant aspects of Pakistani culture and traditions are influenced from Iranian cultures.
Politically, Iran was the first country to officially acknowledge the newly formed state of Pakistan in 1947 as well. Today relations between Islamabad and Tehran are based on bilateral relations between the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Pakistan and Iran are neighbors, connected by the Balochistan region split between them.
Pakistan was partially a colony of the Persian Empire and both Pakistan and Iran are part of the Iranian Cultural Continent.[1] During the rule of 1970s, Iran's relations with Pakistan were at their peak. However, During the 1980s foreign policy of both countries experiences major shifts and, the relations between both states at times have become strained for short periods due to Pakistan's close ties with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan's historic close alliance with the USA which Iran views with suspicion and recently tends to warn Pakistan against. Pakistan and Iran also supported different sides during the Afghan Civil War. However, relations have never been hostile and have again improved significantly since 1999. Pakistan and Iran have a number of areas of mutual interest on fighting drug trade along their common border as well as defeating Afghan supported tribal insurgency along their border. They are both members of the Developing 8 Countries group of countries as well as the Economic Cooperation Organization. Iran and Pakistan are also both observers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation


Country comparison

Iran Iran Pakistan Pakistan
Population 75,000,000 176,516,000
Area 1,648,195 km² (636,372 sq mi) 796,095 km² (307,374 sq mi)
Population Density 45.3/km² (117.4/sq mi) 214.3/km² (555/sq mi)
Capital Tehran Islamabad
Largest City Tehran Karachi
Government Islamic republic, Theocratic Unitary state Islamic Republic, Federal Parliamentary democratic republic
National language Persian Urdu, English (Pakistani dialect)
Main Religions 98% Islam (90% Shi'a 10% Sunni), 2% religious minorities, including Bahá'ís,
Mandeans, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians
95-98% Islam (85% Sunni, 10% Shi'a), 1.6% Christianity, 1.6% Hinduism, others
GDP (nominal) $357.221 billion ($4,740 per capita) $210.8 billion ($1,049 per capita)
GDP (PPP) $818.7 billion $464 billion
Military expenditures $9.3 billion $5.0 billion

Persian language and culture in Pakistan

An Iranian stamp commemorating the centenary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, printed in 1976.
Persian (فارسی) is spoken by a sizeable proportion of Pakistanis. Although Persian has no official status, it had been the lingua franca for a thousand years and a preferred language amongst the educated Muslim elite and dynasties. It was also the official and cultural language of the Mughal Empire and other Turkic Empires and various Muslim princely states based in what is now Pakistan. The Persian speaking Qizilbash tribe settled in northern regions of modern Pakistan and their numbers were further increased with the arrival of tens of thousands of Qizilbash refugees from neighboring Afghanistan when they were termed enemies of the state by the then Emir of Afghanistan for allegedly siding with the British Raj in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839 to 1842). Persian as an official language was abolished from the region with the arrival of the British in the province of Sindh in 1843 and Punjab in 1849 to minimize the influence of Persia on the regions that now make up Pakistan and to integrate these regions with the rest of South Asia. Nevertheless Persian culture continues to influence the country to this day. It has influenced and formed the base for many of Pakistan's native languages, and has greatly influenced and evolved Pakistan's national language, Urdu. It is still spoken and understood by the educated elite as a literary and prestigious language, especially in the fields of music (Qawwali) and art. The National Anthem of Pakistan, while written in Urdu, has heavy poetic vocabulary from Persian. Many distinctly Persian forms of literature, such as Ghazal, Qasida, Marsia and Nazms, directly carried over into Urdu literature, producing a distinct melding of Persian heritages. A famous cross-over writer was Amir Khusro, whose Persian and Urdu couplets are to this day read in Pakistan. Allama Iqbal was also extremely prominent in this regard. Allama Iqbal, the renowned poet-philosopher and the national poet of Pakistan, wrote much of his poetry in the Persian. The work and writings of Pakistani poet Allama Iqbal are very popular in Iran and the Supreme Leader of Iran is a big fan of Pakistan's national poet. In Iran, Dr Allama Iqbal is commonly known as “Eghbal-i-Lahuri”.
Many Persian speaking refugees, Dari and Tajiks, from Afghanistan have also settled in Pakistan permanently. There are also Tajiks refugees from Tajikistan that have settled in Pakistan.

Urdu language

Amongst most Iranian expatriates in Pakistan and the Persian Gulf Arab states, Arabic and Urdu is widely used as a second language for business and trade.


Tombs at the Makli hills necropolis, in Thatta, Pakistan. In 1739, following the Battle of Karnal, Thatta was ceded to Nadir Shah of Persia
Prior to 1947, the present day Pakistani territories was under the colonial rule of the British Empire. During the Mughal period, despite Persia being a rival to the Mughals, the influence of Persian culture had a wide impact throughout South Asia due to the Mughals themselves being highly Persianised people.[2] The Mughal Emperor Humayun sought refugee in Persia[3] - however years later the Persian emperor Nader Shah as part of his invasion of Delhi was to pass through what are now the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Tombs at Chaukundi, near Karachi in Pakistan. Many Persian soldiers from Nadir Shah's army are buried here.
This area had frequent interactions with the Persian Empire, today known as Iran and was often directly ruled by Persia. There were trade relations dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization. The Achaemenid annexation of Western Panjab and Sindh during the 5th century BCE solidified this connection in the Indus valley. The Sassanid Empire included parts of Baluchistan. After its collapse, large numbers of the Zoroastrians fled via the Indus Valley to other parts of the South Asia forming today's Parsi community.
Both Iran and Pakistan were also part of the Ghaznavid Empirewhich was founded by Sabuktigin upon his succession to rule of territories centered around the city of Ghazni from his father-in-law, Alp Tigin, a break-away ex-general of the Samanid sultans. Sabuktigin's son, Shah Mahmoud, expanded the empire in the region that stretched from the Oxus river to the Indus Valley and beyond covering Western Panjab and Kashmir and in the west it reached Rey[disambiguation needed] and Hamadan.
Under the reign of Mas'ud I of Ghazni, the dynasty experienced major territorial losses, losing the western territories to the Seljuqs at the Battle of Dandanaqan resulting in a restriction of its holdings to Balochistan, Western Panjab and modern-day Afghanistan.[4][5] In 1151, Sultan Bahram Shah lost Ghazni to Ala'uddin Hussain of Ghor and the capital was moved to Lahore until its subsequent capture by the Ghurids in 1186.
In later centuries, conquests by Alexander, Timur and Nadir Shah resulted in both countries being under a single ruler. Persian nobles, most famously Nur Jahan, formed an important part of the nobility during the Mughal era.
Pakistan's western province, Balochistan, lies on the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau, tying it directly to the Greater Iranian civilization found in this area. Balochistan is part of the greater Baluchistan region that is split between Pakistan and Iran, as well as southern Afghanistan. A significant numbers of Persian speakers can still be found in Pakistan's western provinces.
Shalamar Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a Persian garden in Lahore, Pakistan. It is a popular tourist attraction amongst Iranians.
The key languages of both countries - Persian, Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi, Sindhi, Urdu - are part of the Indo-Iranian and Indo-European languages family tree. Modern day Urdu draws its script and a significant part of its vocabulary from Persian. The national anthem of Pakistan is written in a heavily Persianized dialect of Urdu. A small Parsi community continues to live in Karachi. Pakistan still has an estimated 1.5 to 2 million native speakers of Persian, mainly by Afghan and Iranian residents.
As a result of these close geographical, ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties, there are strong common ethno-linguistic and cultural bonds between Iranians and Pakistanis.

1947 to 1979

In 1947 Iran was the first country to recognize the newly-independent state of Pakistan.
During the Shah's era, Iran moved closer to Pakistan in many fields and the two nations worked closely with each other. Pakistan, Iran and Turkey joined the United States-sponsored CENTO (Central Treaty Organization) defence treaty which extended along the Soviet Union's southern perimeter.
Their relationship further strengthened in the 1970s to suppress a rebel movement in Balochistan, across provinces of Iranian Baluchestan, Pakistani Baluchistan and Afghan Balochistan. In addition the Shah offered considerable development aid to Pakistan including oil and gas on preferential terms. Iran is also believed to have assisted Pakistan financially in its development of an atomic bomb program after India's surprise test detonation Smiling Buddha in 1974.
Pakistanis and Iranians frequently visited each other's countries. Considerable business, educational and infrastructure development took place in this period.

Military relations

Both nations were part of a Cold War alliance called the Central Treaty Organization. Iran has always supported Pakistan when it went to war with India, sending over squadrons of airplanes and extra tanks as well as other arms to support it. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the prominent Pakistani nuclear scientist, is popular in Iran.[citation needed]
In 1965 war Pakistani fighter jets were often sent to Iran for fueling and other tactical purposes. Iran also supplied Pakistan with American military weaponry and spare parts after America cut off their military aid to Pakistan.[6] In the 1971 war[which?] Pakistani planes were sent to Iranian bases in Zahedan and Mehrabad for protection since Russian radar jamming and early Airborne warning An-12[clarification needed] blinded Pakistani fighters. Similarly Iran sheltered its jets at Pakistan Air Force Bases during the Iran-Iraq War[citation needed]. Pakistan became intermediary in several of defense deals of Iran with China and North Korea.[citation needed]


Today, many ethnic and social groups in Pakistan trace their ancestry to Iran. Benazir, Murtaza, Sanam, and Shah Navaz were half Kurdish Iranian from her mother's side. Former Chief Martial Law Administrators Army Commander-in-Chiefs General Yahya Khan traces his ancestry to a soldier who arrived in 1738 with Nader Shah of Persia.[7]

Since 1979

“Az Zabur-i-Ajam” poem written by Pakistan's national poet Allama Iqbal was a major source of inspiration and motivation for many young people taking part in the 1979 Revolution. Scholars in Tehran University recalled that it was common during the revolution days to see people gathering in a park or corner to listen to someone reciting Iqbal’s Persian poetry.[8]
After 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, new Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto immediately withdrew Pakistan from CENTO and SEATO after Bhutto thought that the military alliances failed to protect or appropriately assist Pakistan and instead alienated the Soviet Union. After the Iranian Revolution and overthrow of Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini withdrew Iran from CENTO and dissociated itself from the United States and US-friendly countries such as Pakistan in response to their support of the previous Government. By 1979 Pakistan under President Zia ul Haq was close allies again with the US and came under Sphere of influence a position Pakistan has remained in since . Despite close ties under the Shah, Pakistan was among the first countries to recognize the new Iranian government, and attempted to rebuild ties. In 1980s, the Soviet Union invaded the fragile Afghan Soviet Socialist Republic (Afghan SSR) which improved the Pakistan-Iran ties and coordinated their covert support for the Afghan mujahideen.
During the 1990s, their relations were dominated by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Iran's material support of Shiite paramilitary organizations in Pakistan in response to Saudi financial and logistical support to an Anti-Shiite Sentiment.
From 1991 until the fall Taliban government, Pakistan and Iran supported opposite sides through proxy measure during the Afghanistan war. Pakistan supported the Pashtun Taliban while Iran supported the Tajik Northern Alliance. When the Taliban took Kabul in 1996, they executed many Iranian residents, including several diplomats. Shia-Sunni gun battles in Pakistan became even more coordinated and strained relations further. The Taliban succeeded and took over the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 and massacred thousands of Shias, according to Amnesty International. The situation worsened after Iranian leaders accused Afghanistan's ruling Taliban of holding hostage 11 Iranian diplomats, 35 Iranian truck drivers and an Iranian journalist. Iran responded by massing over 300,000 troops at the Afghan border and threatened to attack the Taliban government, which Iran never recognized. This strained relations with Pakistan, as the Taliban were seen as Pakistan's key allies.
In the Balochistan region in the southeast of Iran and in the southwest of Pakistan, the Balochi people travel regularly, often without visas, causing considerable problems for the Iranian national guards as well as Pakistan's border security force (Frontier Corps Balochistan). Since 2010 there has been an increase in friendship between the two nations with senior figures from both governments meeting each other as both countries work together to find a regional solution to the Afghan War and progress on talks over a proposed gas pipeline and an ECO Container Train line.


Relations between Iran and Pakistan improved after the removal of the Taliban in 2002, but regional rivalry continues. Sunni-majority Pakistan sides with fellow Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia in its competition with Shiite majority Iran for influence across the broader Islamic world, although Pakistan is far less ideological than either country, and is more concerned with influence in Central Asia rather than in the Middle East. Iran considers northern and western Afghanistan as its sphere of influence since its population is Persian Dari speaking. Pakistan considers southern and eastern Afghanistan as its sphere of influence since it is Pashto and Baloch speaking like the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistani Baluchistan, respectively. Pakistan expressed concern over India's plan to build a highway linking the southern Afghanistan city of Kandahar to Zahidan, since it will reduce Afghanistan's dependence on Pakistan to the benefit of Iran.
Both the countries joined the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), a derivative of Regional Co-operation for Development (RCD), which was established in 1964. The ECO groups neighboring Muslim states recently expanded to Central Asia. As part of this regional organizational framework both countries continue to cooperate on trade and investment.
In 2005, Iran and Pakistan had conducted US$500 million of trade. The land border at Taftan is the conduit for trade in electricity and oil. Iran is extending its railway network towards Taftan but the gauges are of different sizes, 1435 mm and 1676 mm respectively.
The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline is currently under discussion. It could be a major development between all three nations. India has been pressured by the US not to go ahead with the deal and appears to have heeded American policy after it signed the US-India nuclear deal. In addition, international sanctions on Iran due to its controversial nuclear program could derail the project altogether.
Trade between the two countries has increased by £1.4 billion in 2009. The Iranian governor general says that President Ahmadinejad remains keen to strengthen ties between the two countries.[9]
Tehran has provided 50 million euros for laying of 170 kilometer transmission line for the import of 1000MW of electricity from Iran (2009). Pakistan is already importing 34MW of electricity daily from Iran. The imported electricity is much cheaper than the electricity produced by the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) because Iran subsidizes oil and gas which feed the power plants.[10]
Iran has also offered to construct a motorway between Iran and Pakistan connecting the two countries.[11]

Role in mediation

Since Iran has no diplomatic relations with United States, Iranian interest in the United States is represented by the Pakistan embassy in Washington. Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, thought to have been abducted by CIA from Saudi Arabia, took sanctuary in the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, D.C.Iran claimed the United States has trumped up charges they were involved with the 9/11 attacks.

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