ISLAMABAD - Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif Thursday said his country’s relations with India cannot negatively impact Iran’s relations with Pakistan. “We cannot sacrifice Pakistan. It is fundamental to Iran,” Dr Zarif told parliamentary body of the National Assembly on Foreign Affairs.

His comments came in response to a question relating to India’s multi-billion dollars investment in Iran’s Chabahar port through which India wants to access Central Asian countries for trade, a move Pakistan looks at in direct economic conflict to deep sea Gwadar port.

“Economic development in Pakistan’s Balochistan is in Iran’s interest and economic development in Iran’s Sistan Balochistan is in Pakistan’s interest,” Dr Zarif said.

Earlier, in his joint press stakeout with Sartaj Aziz, Dr Zarif dismissed notions that Iran is against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, including the Gwadar Port, saying his country supports economic development anywhere in Pakistan. “We believe economic development both in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and Iran’s Sistan are fundamental to fight poverty and extremism and major cause of unrest and destabilisation.

He said both countries need to exploit the wide array of options available in economic cooperation, following the lifting of sanctions linked to Tehran’s nuclear program. Zarif warned that Islamic State (Daesh) had infiltrated into Afghanistan which should be a matter of concern for the neighbouring countries, including Pakistan. He said Iran was willing to work with Pakistan in its efforts against extremism and terrorism to bring peace and stability to the region.

Zarif was appreciative of Pakistan’s responsible role in the region and said everyone needs to work together against extremism and terrorism.

“Sectarian divisions are instruments of division that help no Muslims,” he told the reporters. Iranian Foreign Minister said there were massive opportunities for cooperation and particularly identified the oil and gas, transportation, finance and banking sectors, in which the two countries can have increased cooperation. He was also appreciative of Pakistan and said it has always been supportive with its stance on use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. “We will never forget out friends,” he said.

Zarif was also optimist about the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project that can see expeditious work. He said both the sides need to work on the technicalities so as to work out the issues that need to be resolved. He said both sides have shown determination to complete the project.

Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Adviser Sartaj Aziz, he said they discussed bilateral ties and situation in the region and the Middle East. o a question, the Iranian foreign minister said his country supports peace and security cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said Iran welcomes cooperation in the region to bring peace and stability and sought revival of Iran-Pakistan and Afghanistan joint mechanism to address all the issues.

Later in his address to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif called for unity in Muslim world and said no country, including India, can undermine the importance of Pakistan for Iran. The Iranian Foreign Minister said anything that threatens the security of Pakistan is threat to Iran as well. In his welcome remarks, Chairman of the Committee Awais Leghari stressed the need to expand economic cooperation between the two countries especially in energy sector.