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Thread: Pakistan must improve ties with Iran, says Abida

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    Pakistan must improve ties with Iran, says Abida

    LAHORE:

    To overcome the worsening energy crisis it is plagued by, Pakistan must improve its relationship with Iran, former federal minister and ex-ambassador to the United States Abida Hussain.

    “Iran, in the coming years, will grow stronger economically. This is the country that can really help us meet our energy needs,” she told The Express Tribune in an interview.

    According to her, Pakistan’s ties with Iran could improve if the rulers try. “The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline can help us a lot and in Iran too, there is great demand for our textile, chemical and agriculture products.”

    According to Abida, since the time of General Ziaul Haq’s rule, Pakistan has become increasingly pro-Saudi Arabia.

    “The general perception at the public level in Pakistan is that the Saudis don’t treat us as well as we treat them,” she said. “We should maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia but we shouldn’t let that ruin our ties with other countries.”

    Apart from Iran, Pakistan needs to focus on its relations with Russia, Abida said. “Good ties with Russia will improve our relationship with other Central Asian countries,” she added.

    Abida said the government should also pay more heed to its ties with Japan. “Tokyo has been giving $500 million annually without any strings [attached] for many years now,” she pointed out.

    The former envoy also identified Africa as a region which provided a lot of opportunities and where Pakistan has not tried much until now.

    On the domestic front, Abida criticised the anti-corruption and anti-terrorist operations in Sindh. “If I was a Sindhi, these operations would have annoyed me a lot, too. The institutions carrying out this clean-up in Sindh should also bring their attention to Punjab.”

    Talking about development, she said the government shouldn’t focus only on infrastructure projects and should invest in health and education too. Asked if the massive projects initiated by the current government would be sustainable under a different regime, the former envoy said it would be “very hard for a future government to roll back projects like these.”

    Regarding army chief General Raheel Sharif’s announcement that he will not ask for an extension, Abida said she could not comprehend why he would make such a statement with 10 months still to go for his retirement.

    Abida was very optimistic about the present government’s chances of finishing its tenure. She added that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and independents would win big in Punjab in the next election.

    Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2016.
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    Re: Pakistan must improve ties with Iran, says Abida

    Not an entirely unreasonable proposition

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