Spotlight On Iran
Pakistan Became Iran's Neighbor 70 Years Ago Today
Seventy years ago today Iran's eastern neighbor changed. India a dominion of the British empire transformed into two separate independent dominions of Pakistan and India. Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan. The Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was in power for seven years already. He would be the first head of state to visit the newly founded country in 1950. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, is quoted as telling the first Pakistani ambassador to Iran, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan, that "you are going to a country with which Pakistan had the most cordial relations in the world." These cordial relations lasted throughout the cold war. Shah came to Pakistan on several state visits during his reign. This visit happened in March of 1970, nine years before the Shah's reign ended in Iran and one year before East Pakistan broke off to become Bangladesh.
The two countries even joined the U.S sponsored Baghdad Pact. Pakistan became an Islamic Republic in 1956 when the dominion of Pakistan was dissolved. Iran became an Islamic Republic in 1979 and the dynamic of the relationship changed. Iran was no longer a U.S. ally. In fact it became a leading anti-western country and reasserted its Shia identity. Meanwhile Pakistan remained pro-western and a strong U.S ally in the region but the era of General Zia ul Haq brought Pakistan's Sunni credentials into play. The new millennium brought in converging and diverging interests in trade, development and security.