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Pakistan and Iran Think Tanks Unite for Central Asian Unity


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The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) and Iran’s Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) recently came together to host their Annual Dialogue, a platform designed to explore and discuss pressing bilateral and regional issues.

This gathering, facilitated by the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA), provided a forum for distinguished speakers and experts to engage in insightful discussions. The event was marked by the presence of prominent figures such as Dr. Muhammad Hassan Shaykh al-Islami, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran and President of IPIS, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, Director General of ISSI, and several other renowned diplomats and experts.


The Dialogue in Three Parts


The ISSI-IPIS Annual Dialogue was structured around three pivotal working sessions, each focusing on distinct aspects of regional importance. Let’s delve deeper into these sessions and the key takeaways from each.


  1. Pakistan-Iran Bilateral Relations


The first session, titled “Pakistan-Iran Bilateral Relations,” was expertly moderated by Ms. Amina Khan, Director of CAMEA. This session served as a platform to discuss the ongoing developments in the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Iran. Despite the challenges posed by international sanctions, it was heartening to note that bilateral trade had exceeded $2 billion. The participants highlighted the significance of initiatives such as the collaboration on opening border crossings, the opening of border markets, and the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline (IPI) gas project. Additionally, the cooperation between Pakistan and Iran in regional organizations like ECO, SCO, OIC, UN, and other multilateral forums was applauded as a sign of mutual commitment to enhancing regional stability and prosperity.


  1. Changing Dynamics in the Middle East: Prospects for Regional Integration and Connectivity


The second session, titled “Changing Dynamics in the Middle East: Prospects for Regional Integration and Connectivity,” was moderated by Arhama Siddiqa, a Research Fellow at CAMEA. The discussion revolved around the dynamic shifts occurring in the Middle East and the potential for enhancing regional integration and connectivity. It was emphasized that addressing the prevailing energy disparities in the region was essential. A wide array of potential areas for regional collaboration was considered, and the participants called for concrete actions, self-sufficiency, and the political resolve required to harness the region’s considerable potential for substantial collaboration through relevant regional multilateral platforms.


  1. The Evolving Situation in Afghanistan


The third session, titled “The Evolving Situation in Afghanistan,” was moderated by Sarah Akram, another Research Fellow at CAMEA. This session underlined Afghanistan’s pivotal role as a junction connecting Pakistan, Iran, and the Central Asian Republics, making it a potential foundation for mutually beneficial regional cooperation. Despite ongoing bilateral engagements, the absence of a coherent regional framework for addressing Afghanistan-related issues was recognized, emphasizing the necessity for a comprehensive regional initiative. The imperative of sustained engagement was emphasized, as a continued reliance on bilateral engagement could become the prevailing norm without a transition towards a regional mechanism.


Notable Statements

The inaugural session of the ISSI-IPIS Annual Dialogue witnessed opening statements by Director General ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood and Deputy Foreign Minister/President of IPIS Dr. Muhammad Hassan Shaykh al-Islami. They acknowledged the unprecedented flux, fragility, and polarization in the global environment and the profound changes taking place at the international and regional levels. They highlighted the importance of close Pakistan-Iran consultations in this complex milieu and expressed their satisfaction with the positive trajectory of the bilateral relationship.


Furthermore, they discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the ongoing tragedy in Palestine, emphasizing the need for urgent international intervention to stop the oppression against the Palestinian civilian population and provide immediate relief assistance. They underscored the proactive role of the UN and OIC in ensuring urgent action to address the current unacceptable situation. The value attached to the institutional relationship between ISSI and IPIS was highlighted, and both parties reaffirmed their commitment to intensify mutual exchanges and expand the scope of mutual collaboration between the two think-tanks.



The ISSI-IPIS Annual Dialogue serves as a vital platform for fostering bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Iran, as well as for exploring the possibilities of enhanced regional collaboration. Through thoughtful discussions in its three working sessions, the Dialogue touched upon crucial aspects of regional development and stability, including the evolving situation in Afghanistan and changing dynamics in the Middle East. It was clear that both Pakistan and Iran are committed to strengthening their ties and finding solutions to the regional challenges they face.


As these two influential think-tanks continue their collaboration, there is hope that the insights and recommendations stemming from the ISSI-IPIS Annual Dialogue will contribute significantly to regional peace, stability, and prosperity. The event demonstrated the importance of diplomacy, dialogue, and cooperation in addressing complex regional issues, and it underscores the significance of multilateral partnerships in the ever-changing global landscape. The success of this annual dialogue bodes well for the future of Pakistan-Iran relations and regional cooperation.

Abu Bakr Alvi
Abu Bakr Alvi
Mr. Abu Bakr Alvi, Senior Journalist Based in Faisalabad

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