Bilateral ties on tenterhooks, Iran President Raisi to visit Pakistan on April 22

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi. Internet Photo

Islamabad, April 15 (IANS) Amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel after Tehran’s major and unprecedented missile and drone attack, bringing the region on the edge, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi is set to land in Pakistan on April 22.

Sources said that Islamabad and Tehran have agreed upon the matters pertaining to President Raisi’s visit who will be accompanied by a high-level delegation and would hold meeting with top officials in the Pakistan government including President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the military leadership.

Iran President’s visit to Pakistan comes after Tehran launched over 300 drones and missiles on Israel in what it calls a retaliation to Israel’s airstrike in the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria claiming lives of senior commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Mohammad Reza Zahedi and senior commander Hadi Haj Rahimi.

The visit also holds great importance to Pakistan as it comes after Tehran carried out cross-border strikes inside Pakistani territory, claiming to have targeted anti-Iran insurgent groups.

Islamabad responded within 24 hours carrying out a tit-for-tat approach to Iran’s aggression and conducing cross-border airstrikes on the Iranian side killing members of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). Iran later announced that those killed in Pakistani airstrikes are non-Iranians.

It would be the first time that Iranian President would be landing in Islamabad post January airstrikes, which had put relationship between both countries in a fix temporarily. During the time, Pakistan even withdrew its ambassador from Iran and stated that it would not allow the Iranian envoy to return to Pakistan.

And even though both sides soon restored diplomatic ties allowing respective diplomats to return to their respective posts; relations remained under question.

Iranian President visit becomes even more crucial for Pakistan as the agenda of the visit is focused on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and the Free-Trade Agreement (FTA).

In a show of goodwill gesture, Iran’s President has also approved the release of Pakistanis stranded on a ship seized by the Iranian forces.

Official sources say the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline will remain as the top agenda of the delegation level meetings as both sides are actively looking to complete the important project.

It is also believed that Iran’s airstrikes on Israel would also come under discussion and Pakistan would put forward its call for restraint.

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