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Former Pakistan FM’s Comments Highlight Conflict Over Iran Relations

This interpretation of the situation was arguably given more credence on Tuesday when Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported on recent comments by political organizer and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. His remarks predictably criticized India, in keeping with longstanding discord between the two countries. Qureshi accused India of regional aggression and of rebuffing Pakistani efforts to maintain peace between both governments.

What was less predictable, however, was Qureshi’s effort to frame these remarks in context with the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and to contrast his criticism of India with praise for the Islamic Republic of Iran. “India should take a leaf from Iran’s book,” Qureshi said, adding that he believes “Iran has shown that it does not want conflict.”

This view, of course, has been widely contradicted by critics of the nuclear negotiations. On Saturday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei delivered a speech in which he held a rifle in his left hand and insisted that relations would not improve between Iran and the United States. US Secretary of State John Kerry admitted on Tuesday that Khamenei’s belligerent remarks were “very disturbing,” according to The Blaze. But he fell short of abandoning the Obama administration’s former hope for moderation of the Iranian regime in the wake of the nuclear deal.

Even if Qureshi’s remarks referred only to Iran’s relations with existing trading partners like Iran and Pakistan, they are similarly subject to debate and refutation. In the midst of the nuclear negotiations, Pakistani officials insisted that they were unable to complete their portion of a joint Iranian-Pakistani pipeline project until after sanctions had been removed against doing business with Iran. In response, the Iranian government threatened financial penalties and withdrawal of the project if Pakistan did not speed completion of the pipeline ahead of the nuclear deal.

Iranian-Pakistani relations have traditionally been much strained, owing in part to clashes among border guards and Sunni militant groups in the Sistan-Baluchistan region of the border between the two countries. Iran has been known to wield its political and military influence in attempts to force the Pakistani government to take more aggressive action against perceived threats in that region.

Qureshi’s remarks seem to ignore such recent strain in the interest of praising a foreign power that may be in a position to greatly expand economic relations with the South Asian republic once sanctions relief goes into effect. Simultaneously, Qureshi’s accusation of Indian war-mongering is arguably aimed at discouraging parallel Iranian investment in the main rival to Pakistan’s economy.


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