ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran have agreed to further expand their trade and economic cooperation and adopt collaborative approach to fight the menace of terrorism.

This has been stated in a joint statement issued at the culmination of Iranian President Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Pakistan.

According to the joint statement, both the sides affirmed their commitment to transform their common border from ‘border of peace’ to a ‘border of prosperity’ through joint development-oriented economic projects, including setting up of joint border markets, economic free zones, and new border openings.

The joint statement reads that leadership of both the countries reiterated the importance of cooperation in the energy domain, including trade in electricity, power transmission lines and IP Gas Pipeline Project.

The two sides agreed to boost their bilateral trade to ten billion dollars over the next five years.

Both sides underscored the imperative of a long-term durable economic partnership and collaborative regional economic and connectivity model, particularly for socio-economic development in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan Province and Pakistan’s Balochistan Province.

The two sides agreed to expeditiously finalize the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and hold the next sessions of Annual Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) and Joint Business Trade Committee (JBTC) as well as the 22nd round of the negotiations of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) in the near future.

They also agreed to facilitate regular exchange of economic and technical experts, as well as delegations from Chambers of Commerce from both countries to intensify economic cooperation. The declaration of ‘Reemdan border point’ as an international border crossing point under TIR and opening of the remaining two border sustenance markets was also agreed.

There was consensus to fully operationalize barter trade mechanisms between the two countries to facilitate economic and commercial activity, particularly under ongoing collaborative endeavours, such as border sustenance markets, which would contribute towards improvement of the economic situation of local residents, and further constitute a step towards enhancing border security.

The joint statement reads that both sides recognized that terrorism posed a common threat to regional peace and stability and presented a major impediment to the development of the region. It was agreed to adopt a collaborative approach to confront this menace and to leverage the existing bilateral institutional mechanisms to effectively combat and counter this threat, while fully upholding the principles of the UN Charter, particularly the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states.

Both sides highlighted the need to resolve the issue of Kashmir through dialogue and peaceful means based on the will of the people of the region, and in accordance with international law.

They called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, unimpeded humanitarian access to the besieged people of Gaza, return of the displaced Palestinians, as well as ensuring accountability of the crimes being committed by the Israeli regime. They reiterated their support for a just, comprehensive, and durable solution based on the aspirations of the people of Palestine.

Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the development of Afghanistan as a peaceful, united, sovereign and independent state, free from the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking. Noting that the existence of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan poses a serious threat to regional and global security, the two sides reaffirmed their willingness to enhance cooperation on counter-terrorism and security and to develop a united front against terrorism.

The two sides condemned rising incidents of Islamophobia, desecration of the Holy Quran and sacred symbols in some countries. They also emphasized that advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence must not be allowed under the pretext of freedom of expression.