ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Iran Tuesday showed complete unanimity over the Afghanistan issue vowing to work together for peace in the war-torn country. The understanding came at the tenth round of Pak-Iran Political Consultations in Islamabad. Pakistani side was led Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua while the Iranian side by its Deputy Foreign Minister Syed Abbas Araghchi, the foreign ministry said.

Pak-Iran talks came at a time when United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad was also in Islamabad for talks on the Afghanistan issue.

A foreign ministry statement said: “It was noted that fully supporting an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process was the best way to overcome the serious security and politico-economic challenges faced by Pakistan and Iran.” It added: “A coordinated approach in this regard was important to safeguard the core interests of both Pakistan and Iran in this situation.”

Bilateral Political Consultation between Pakistan and Iran was one of the several important institutional mechanisms to regularly review and chart the way forward in various areas of cooperation.

“Pakistan and Iran are close neighbours enjoying similarity of views on most regional and international issues. The Bilateral Consultations provided the opportunity to review the progress made under various other institutional mechanisms concerning consular, economic, trade and border related issues between the two sides,” said the foreign ministry statement.

Pakistan and Iran, as the major geographic neighbours of Afghanistan also have commonality of views and future approach to restore complete peace and stability in the country.

Both the countries have been affected adversely due to the 40-years old conflict and instability in Afghanistan which had resulted in serious challenges including millions of Afghan refugees, the narcotics trade, illegal migration and the rise of new terrorist outfits like Daesh in the war ridden country.

“Views were also exchanged on other important regional and international issues including the situation following the US unilateral withdrawal from JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the situation of human rights in Kashmir, and the conflict in the Middle East,” said the foreign ministry statement.

Other officials said the two countries showed ‘complete unanimity’ on all international issues and vowed to work together for Afghanistan and regional peace. “The meeting was very positive. The two sides have agreed to work together as a unity,” said one official.

Recently, Pakistan supported Iran over its ‘principled stance’ on the JCPOA with the P5+1 and the European Union. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Islamabad that Pakistan supported Iran’s principled stance and expressed the hope that remaining parties to the agreement would uphold their commitments in ‘letter and spirit.’

This was important, he said, given International Atomic Energy Agency’s “repeated verification that Iran has strictly adhered to the terms of agreement.” The Foreign Minister added that Pakistan stands with Iran in this ‘hour of need.’

The deal, commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, was reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015 between Iran, the P5+1  - the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, US plus Germany - and the European Union.

On October 13, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the US would not make the certification provided for under US domestic law, but stopped short of terminating the deal.  On April 30, 2018, the US and Israel alleged that Iran did not disclose a past covert nuclear weapons program to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was required in the 2015 deal. And on May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the agreement.

The foreign ministry also said Pakistan and Iran had agreed to enhance their trade relations and improve railway connectivity.

“Measures to enhance bilateral trade to achieve the annual target of US 5 billion dollars through facilitation of business communities, scaling down of trade barriers and speedy progress on facilitating preferential trade were discussed in detail.  Both sides agreed to hold the 21st session of the Joint Economic Commission early next year,” it said.

They also discussed ways and means to facilitate the growing number of Zaireen (pilgrims) traveling every year to Iran from Pakistan, the statement said.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Syed Abbas Araghchi also held a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and emphasized on strengthening bilateral ties in various fields of mutual interest between Pakistan and Iran.

During the meeting, the Iranian deputy foreign minister expressed the desire of cooperation in all issues of mutual interest on behalf of his leadership.