Pakistan’s New Strategy: Strengthening Ties with Iran Amid Border Issues

iran and pakistan

Analysts who study foreign policy in Pakistan support the idea of reconnecting with Iran, even though there have been some tensions along the border.

According to Maleeha Lodhi, a seasoned diplomat from Pakistan, having a good relationship with Iran is crucial for Pakistan due to its problematic borders with India and Afghanistan.

Currently, the trade between Pakistan and Iran exceeds $2 billion, and both countries are working to increase it further.

Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and crude oil are among the items traded informally between the two nations. Additionally, Iran supplies electricity to Balochistan province and other border areas in Pakistan.

In May 2023, a significant step was taken when the first border market was opened at the Mand-Pishin border crossing by leaders from both countries.

Moreover, there are strong cultural and religious ties between Pakistan and Iran, with many Shia minority members from Pakistan visiting Iran annually for religious pilgrimages.

However, despite these cultural bonds and the long shared border spanning 900km (559 miles), there hasn’t been significant people-to-people interaction or deep trade connections.

Zaidi from Tabadlab mentioned that trade mostly occurs outside the formal channels, and travel is primarily limited to religious purposes.

The Iranian president aimed for a $10 billion bilateral trade target during his recent visit, highlighting the need to match the strong political relations with robust economic ties. Last year, the target was set at $5 billion.

Efforts to build a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan have faced obstacles due to opposition from the United States, which has imposed sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear activities.