Pakistan’s energy security is Iran’s responsibility: Rouhani

ISLAMABAD: President of Islamic Republic of Iran Dr Hassan Rouhani Saturday assured the government of Pakistan that provision of its energy security was Iran’s responsibility, besides reiterating bilateral commitment to take volume of trade to US$ 5 billion within next five years.

“In the presence of distinguished Prime Minister of Pakistan, the officials, the authorities, tradesmen, entrepreneurs and delegates, I announce that Iran is responsible for provision of Pakistan’s energy security. Based on our commitments in the area of electricity, based on our commitment in the area of gas – we have fulfilled our responsibility and will fulfill in the future,” the Iranian President said in translated comment while addressing Pakistan-Iran Joint Business Forum here.

The landmark announcement was received among the audience with applause since Pakistan’s government was also striving hard to steer the country of energy crisis.

Organized by Ministry of Commerce, the Forum was also addressed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who reiterated his government’s resolve to inject around 12,000 MW of electricity by 2018 and another 13,000 afterwards as country was actively executing various power projects.

He also apprised the audience of his government’s desire to bring prosperity not only in Pakistan but the whole region through his vision of regional integration.

Rouhani said gas pipeline has reached Pakistani border and of course, Iran was ready to expand and develop this cooperation.

“Pakistani nation should be assured that Iran as a strategic partner for the Pakistani nation – will always explore its potential in the field of oil and gas to satisfy the needs of Pakistani nation,” he remarked.

Both the leaders observed that there existed immense potential to harness the bilateral ties in the fields of trade, investment, culture and science and technology; however, the bilateral trade volume was far below that needed to be raised up to the mark.

Iranian President, who reached here Friday on two-day visit along with a high level delegation, also drew attention of both the countries to complement each other as in today’s era the development of states was inter-linked.

He highlighted the areas in which his country was enormously rich like gas, electricity, technical education, engineering besides construction of roads, dams and rail network.

He said the tradesmen, entrepreneurs and the state sector should cooperate in order to realize that Iran after its nuclear agreement and in the post-sanctions era was an emerging economy and would play its role in the area.

Mentioning the bilateral ties rooted in the historic, cultural and religious bonds, Dr Rouhani said both the countries should establish a partnership in the fields of transit and tourism.

He said Iranian economy was resistive that was why it survived despite remarkable decrease in the oil prices which affected many oil exporting countries.

He said Iran’s policy was to develop constructive engagement with the neighboring countries especially the countries like Pakistan for having several commonalities.

Seconding the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s remarks, Rouhani said Allama Iqbal was revered in Iran just like Hafiz Sherazi and Sheikh Saadi had respect among Pakistanis.

The Iranian President, who earlier also met Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, lauded the struggle of Pakistan Army for peace in the country and the achievements it had made.

“Pakistani nation is our significance, and we are proud of that and of course, we consider the influence and power of Pakistan Army as our own power and influence. Our defense and security sectors should cooperate with each other for further security of the borders and the region”, he added.

Rouhani suggested that both the brotherly countries should enhance cooperation in banking sector besides enhancing role of  private sector by engaging in the fields of trade, economy and academics.

Addressing the Forum, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said interaction between eminent businessmen from Pakistan and Iran would expand economic cooperation between the two countries.

He said the bilateral ties were rooted in cultural and historic affinities; however this closeness was not reflected in the trade and investment.

He said both the countries should work to transform these historic ties into robust economic partnership.

He said with lifting of sanctions on Iran and reemergence of growth in Pakistan, the target of US$ 5 billion was within their reach and cooperation in multiple fields would encourage the two sides to take fullest advantage of the potential.

Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan’s economy had emerged from the challenge of extremism that had caused the loss of country’s two percent of GDP.

He said the modern and progressive Pakistan, envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, could not be realized without eliminating the menace.

He said the pillar of his government’s constructive engagement was the regional integration through corridors and establishing trade partnership, not only with immediate neighbors but South as well as Central Asia.

He said despite possessing nearly 70 percent of the world’s energy resources and representing one fourth of global population, the collective share of the Islamic countries in the global GDP was insignificant, stressing the need to promote economic integration and liberal trade relations among the Muslim countries for economic growth, could not be over emphasized.

He said as members of OIC as well as D-8, Iran and Pakistan have a great opportunity to demonstrate benefits achieved through increased economic trade and technological cooperation.

He encouraged the participants of the Forum to avail the opportunity to create linkges and share prosperity through economic integration.

Earlier, in his Welcome Address, Minister for CommerceEngineer Khurram Dastgir said the high level visit would open up new opportunities for bilateral trade and investment.

He said the five-year strategic trade plan signed on Friday would provide a roadmap for harnessing the potential of bilateral ties.

Calling for mainstreaming of the private sector, the minister said the establishment of joint chambers of commerce and institutionalizing the trade could take the bilateral trade to a new height.

Later, a Letter of Intent was also signed between the State Bank of Pakistan and Central Bank of Iran.