Despite the meeting between their foreign ministers in Switzerland Thursday, tensions between Iran and Pakistan appear to be playing out at the border.
Javad Hedayati, director-general of the Transit and International Affairs Department of Iran Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization (RMTO), told Shargh daily Friday that Pakistan had intensified barriers facing Iranian truckers.“It has been about a month since Iranian drivers are facing new restrictions…and the flow of goods…has almost stopped, while Pakistani drivers are coming to Iran as usual,” he said.
Pakistan imposed heavy tariffs on Iranian truckers in November and was unwilling to issue visas for Iranian drivers, forcing them to unload their cargoes at the border and pass them to Pakistani truckers, Hedayati said: “This has led to a very long unloading and reloading process and…[to] a line of trucks at the border as well as a lot of damage to the goods,” he said.
"Pakistani is making various excuses," said Mahmoud Tohidast, board member of the Iran-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, who put bilateral trade at $1.3 billion despite difficulties.
Thursday’s meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos between Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led to assurances of co-operation.
But relations strained recently over Pakistani allegations of Iranian involvement with a militant separatist group. With a $90 billion external debt, Pakistan also faces acute economic problems and may want to restrict Iranian goods made more competitive by the falling rial.