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  • Context (IE): Iran and Pakistan have attacked militant bases in each other’s territory.
  • The Iran-Pakistan border, known as the Goldsmith Line, stretches from a tripoint with Afghanistan to the northern Arabian Sea.

Iran Pakistan

Evolution of Iran-Pakistan relations

  • Iran was the first country to recognise Pakistan with diplomatic relations on 14 August 1947.

Cold War Era

  • Western inclination: Both countries joined the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in 1955.
  • Central Treaty Organization (CENTO)/Middle East Treaty Organization (METO)/ Baghdad Pact: NATO-like military alliance of the Cold War formed by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The US was not part of it.
  • War Cooperations: Iran provided material and weapons support to Pakistan during the 1965 and 1971 wars. Pakistan supported Iran in the Iran- Iraq war (1980s).
  • Common Baloch animosity: Cooperated against Baloch separatists in Balochistan operations.
  • Islamic Republic of Iran: Established after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty; Pakistan was the first to recognise it.

Divergence and Divide

  • Shia – Sunni divide: Ayatollah Khomeini’s ultra-conservative Shiite regime in Iran and Sunni majority Pakistan’s Islamisation under dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq led to the divergence.
  • US-Pakistan closeness: The Iranian revolution distanced the US and Iran, while the US drew Pakistan closer, generating distrust.
  • Arab Nations: The export of republican ideas of the Iranian revolution irked family-governed Arab nations, while Pakistan continued close relations with Arab nations.
  • Afghanistan: Iran supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, especially after attacks on Persian-speaking Shia Hazaras and Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998.

Ups and downs of Reconciliation efforts

  • Benazir Bhutto Government: Visit in 1995, Import of Iranian Gas, Called Pakistan ” Brother in Islam”.
  • Musharraf Period: Military coup (1999) and soured relations.
  • 2008-2013: Signing of Iran-Pakistan pipeline project under the Zardari government indicated improvement, but Pakistan’s Sunni Arab allies feared the Iran-led “Shi’ite triangle”.
  • Post-2013, the Pakistani Sharif government came closer to Arab allies to undo the Iranian tilt.
  • Strategic convergence: China has become most important strategic partner of both Iran and Pakistan.
  • Occasional border issues and minority rights continue to raise concerns between both nations.
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