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From Iran

by Muhammad Mehdi
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Muhammad Mehdi

While submitting my observations and impressions from Iran, I would like to discuss this topic first: the restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has been mediated by China, is seen as a positive step by Iranians. Their attention is focus on possible future events. When asked about the reason behind this thinking, almost all of them state that diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia existed before, but despite that, bitterness was known to the whole world. Re-establishing diplomatic relations alone will not solve the real problem; the two countries should continue to talk about every subject, no matter how bitter the memories associated with it are. However, some time ago in Iran, the movement regarding the hijab also had a deep impact on the Iranian government leadership. They claim that the anxiety that spread in Iran due to the influx of money during this movement has now been dealt with. But if Iran faces opposition from the Western world and encounters problems in the Islamic world, then its problems will increase. Therefore, Iran’s relations with all the countries of the Islamic World should be normalized.

There is a strong desire in Iran at the moment to make the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) truly functional. For them, true functionality does not mean that the OIC merely passes resolutions repeatedly, but that it takes effective action. Moreover, they desire that the role of the OIC be strong enough to protect the interests of Muslims around the world, and they advocate for a complete restructuring of the organization to achieve this goal. Indeed, there is a strong belief in Iran that Pakistan, due to its geography, population, resources, and relations with Arab and non-Arab Muslim countries, has the ability to play a key role in the effective functioning of the OIC. If Pakistan can control its internal political chaos, it will not only benefit Pakistan itself but also benefit the entire Islamic world.

Pakistan is also actively playing its role in the Islamic world. In this context, Nawaz Sharif’s name is especially mention because he was very active in removing the bitterness in Saudi Arabia-Iran relations, and he has extensive political experience. Their efforts were paying off; Tehran and Riyadh were listening and understanding their words. However, they themselves fell victim to adverse situations, and their efforts could not be complete. One person further commented that if Nawaz Sharif had not faced those conditions in Pakistan, it would have been very possible for Pakistan to take the place of China in any breakthrough regarding Iran-Saudi Arabia relations. Pakistan would have received credit for it. However, now all eyes are fix on the future, and there is still hope that after the upcoming elections in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif will become the Prime Minister and resume this work from where he left off.

Another impression firmly established in Pakistan is that some religious elements involved in politics have the support of Iran. However, in Pakistan, those individuals are seen as spokespersons of Iran. But a different thought has emerged regarding this issue: our friendship is with the people of Pakistan, and Iran is a friend to every class in Pakistan. The individuals you are talking about are self-appointed spokespersons, and Iran has nothing to do with those who spread religious hatred. Our only problem is the existence of a religious culture. Students from all over the world go to Iran to receive religious education, and when some of them return to their homelands, they base their connections in such a way that they are associate with the Iranian government, which is not the case at all. There was also an incident where a retired senator from Pakistan visited Iran and received protocol as a parliamentarian. However, when he returned to Pakistan, he started using his visit to Iran and the protocol received as evidence of being a spokesperson for Iran. This was not true, and it caused us frustration as we had only extended the protocol as a parliamentary courtesy.

There is a strong perception that it is not in Iran’s interest to be identify with a particular religious group in Pakistan, as it would create bias towards Iran, which would somehow benefit Iranian interests in Pakistan. This cannot be proven, and it is true. Pakistanis are also playing their role in Iran and are very active in various fields. There is a separate center for Urdu-speaking pilgrims in Mashhad, which is manage by Alibhai and Shahzad Bukhari. They are ready to serve at all times. I mentioned some alarming news about religious freedom in Iran to Shahzad Bukhari, and he informed me that there is a Sunni mosque in the neighborhood where he is staying in Mashhad, as well as an educational institution in the suburbs of Mashhad. The Ahle Sunnats Seminary operates under the patronage of the Iranian government, similar to other institutions. Shahzad Bukhari deeply identifies with Pakistan, and his conversations with every visitor start with instilling love for Pakistan, which he also reinforces with religious references.

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