“US – IRAN Conflict and its Implications for Pakistan”
On January 12, 2019, the Legal Research Institute of Pakistan (LRIP), in collaboration with the Build Pakistan Movement (BPM), held a conference in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on the “US-IRAN Conflict and its Implications for Pakistan.” The conference was attended by members of academia, the intelligentsia, the media, civil society, and students.
Mr. Ameer Muazzam Butt, Chairman of LRIP, addressed the conference and explained how Allama Iqbal presented three main reasons for the establishment of Pakistan. The first reason is for minorities, the second is that by establishing Pakistan, the subcontinent can be made safer from external threats. The final reason was the manner in which Islamic law was developed in the Subcontinent.
He stated that when Pakistan was established, it was considered that the Islamic world would be given a leader. While highlighting a turning point in Pakistani history, he did mention that Liaqat Ali Khan had just returned from a successful visit to the United States.
He asserts that the US is also said to have wanted Pakistan’s help with issues related to Iran. But Liaqat Ali was unwilling to comply because he did not want to jeopardize Pakistan-Iran relations, which eventually led to his death. Iran is more than a country to him; it is a civilization.
He also praised former Prime Minister Zulifqar Ali Bhutto for bringing most Muslim countries together on the Islamic Summit platform. Then he condemned the ramifications for the Muslim world, which included the deaths of several Muslim leaders, including Qaddafi, Saddam Hussain, and Zulfiqar Ali.
He praised Yahya Khan for establishing a foundation for relations with China and condemned the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s response for failing to call OIC’s meeting on Kashmir conflict. He explained how Pakistan was left alone to deal with everything, and how the recent change in Pakistan’s Foreign policy defines its expanded engagement in the international community.
The collaboration of Malaysia, Turkey, and Pakistan for the Islamic rise gave hope in these times when both the west and the east are hesitant to engage with Pakistan. Even though it never happened, it was made clear that Pakistan will be a defining force in both the Western and Arabic worlds. But, when it comes to Iran, Pakistan must be careful to maintain both positive and precise relations in order to ensure the country’s survival, because Iran is more than just a state; it is a civilization.
He asserts that the implications of the US-Iran squabble for Pakistan can be severe because the nation of Pakistan is not fully aware of Pakistan’s policies toward Iran, and because of the social order of different sects in Pakistan, we must keep the nation aware and engaged.
According to him, Pakistan should conduct business with both the Western and Arab worlds. All powers in all regions must strike a balance. He went on to say that what the US did with Iran was a show of strength, and what Iran did in response was calculated to show enough power with a balance. In his concluding remarks, he asserted the audience that in this conflict, Pakistan is the power that can effectively run the negotiations between the US and Iran in a way that benefits us all.
The following speaker, Dr. Fakhar-ul-Islam, Director of the Pakistan Study Centre, expressed gratitude to the entire audience. He spoke about his personal and historical experience in Iran. He expressed his disappointment that Pakistan would never be able to learn how to compete successfully from Iran. After visiting Iran, China, and many other developed nations, he discussed what he believes are the six points that a state should have in order to thrive.
The first point, he said, is the unity of thoughts, just as all Iranians have unity in the thoughts of the entire nation. The second point was discipline, and he continued with the next four, which were related to knowledge and science, a sense of duty, patience, and cleanliness. He expressed his belief that the next factors to consider are those that govern a country’s foreign policy.
Historical legacies, threat perception, regional compulsions and dynamics, international dimensions, and economic interest are all factors to consider. As a result, he believes that these points should be kept in mind during the policy formation process in general, as well as in the context of US-Iran relations. He explains that Pakistan is a party to the conflict.
The reasons he mentions are the ramifications, if a military conflict initiates in Iran. Pakistan has to extend its relations with Saudi Arabia because of the Pakistani diaspora living there, which sends billions of rupees in remittances, while there can be an internal conflict if Pakistan’s stance is anti-Shia.
The third speaker of the conference was Mr. Hashim Raza, Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan. He began his address by discussing two major components that have been a part of human survival: conflict and conflict resolution. According to him, there is always a reason for a conflict, which has been geographical, social, economic, or religious throughout history.
He described Iran’s characteristics, as well as its trade and relations with the rest of the world, to the audience. He discusses the Iranian Army and its constant presence throughout the Middle East as it demonstrates its strength. He describes the events of the Iranian Revolution and the Iranian War, as well as the number of Iranians who died in these conflicts.
He discusses Iran’s nuclear programme and the role it played in the country’s survival. He emphasizes two main points: first, their oil production; if they didn’t have that, things could have been much worse for Iran. The second point is the state’s cultural heritage. He explains that the Iranian general who was killed by the US was resented by the US because it was believed that he was the one backing and training the militias in the Middle East.
He posed a significant threat to the West; he was attempting to resolve issues between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The General also went to Iraq at the request of Iraqi leaders. To explain Pakistan-Iran relations, he mentioned Iran’s assistance in the wars of 1962 and 1971, as well as the decline in support after the Iranian revolution. He continues to state that when Pakistan was the facilitator between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Imran Khan were held in high regard in Iran.
Toward the end, he discussed the significance of CPEC for Iran and the stability of China-Iran relations. He expressed concern that Pakistan should exercise extreme caution in its efforts to play a positive role in this conflict, as Pakistan cannot afford to be a party to any war. He admitted that if there is a war, Pakistan will be irrelevant to the US because the Americans already have plenty of armies scattered across the Middle East and nearby regions, and Pakistan will be set aside for it.
Finally, he stated that in the upcoming US elections, Trump would have a better chance of winning if the US withdraws its troops from these regions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that Pakistan can play a positive role in this regard. He concluded his speech by expressing hope that Pakistan will play a positive role in bringing peace to the region if necessary, and that it will remain neutral if things turn rough for both states. Because, according to him, Pakistan is more committed to the region’s peace than anything else.