Iranian president on historical visit to Pakistan to bolster ties

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi began a three-day official visit to Islamabad on Monday, as confirmed by the foreign office, with heightened security measures in place across the Pakistani capital. The visit, slated to conclude on Wednesday, underscores efforts by the neighboring Muslim nations to mend strained relations following recent military exchanges.

Accompanied by his spouse and a notable delegation, including the foreign minister, cabinet members, and senior officials, President Raisi is scheduled to hold discussions with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other dignitaries. Additionally, he plans to tour Lahore and Karachi during his visit.

In anticipation of Raisi’s arrival, major highways in Islamabad were sealed off as part of security protocols, while Karachi declared a public holiday. Despite Raisi’s pivotal role, ultimate decision-making authority on state matters, particularly regarding nuclear policy, rests with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Tensions escalate further in the Middle East following recent hostilities between Iran and Israel, adding complexity to the diplomatic landscape. Despite past frictions, Pakistan and Iran have maintained commercial agreements, notably the stalled gas supply deal signed in 2010, aimed at constructing a pipeline from Iran’s South Fars gas field to Pakistan’s Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

However, progress on the pipeline has been hindered by concerns over U.S. sanctions, with Pakistan seeking waivers but encountering resistance from Washington. Faced with potential contractual penalties, Islamabad recently authorized the construction of a section of the pipeline, signaling a potential breakthrough in the long-standing impasse.

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