Pakistan and Iran on Friday agreed to strengthen cultural linkages and people-to-people contacts to further bring the two brotherly countries closer. Both sides also emphasized the need for taking measures to enhance cooperation in the area of tourism to its fullest potential. The bilateral relations were discussed in a meeting between President Dr Arif Alvi and the visiting Iranian Minister for Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Seyed Ezzatollah Zarghami, who along with the members of his delegation, called on him at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan Reza Amiri Moghadam was also present on the occasion. Welcoming the delegation, the president said that Pakistan greatly valued its relations with Iran, which were based on historic, cultural and religious bonds. He appreciated the steps taken by the Iranian government for the facilitation of Pakistani pilgrims visiting the holy shrines in Iran. The meeting exchanged views on the rising cases of Islamophobia in the world and called for collective efforts to prevent such incidents. The president remarked that both countries enjoyed good relations and had similar views on the issues of Islamophobia, Jammu and Kashmir, and Palestine. He informed the visiting dignitary about the anti-Muslim policies of India, particularly in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) where the Indian security forces had unleashed a reign of terror, and were persecuting Muslims. He also thanked the Iranian leadership for supporting Pakistan’s stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Congratulating the Iranian leadership and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, over the normalization of relations between the two countries, the president expressed the hope that the breakthrough in their relations would not only benefit the two countries but also the entire region. Seyed Ezzatollah Zarghami emphasised the need to increase people-to-people exchanges to further cement bilateral ties between the two countries. He expressed his condolences on behalf of the people and the Government of Iran over the recent terrorist attack in Bajaur. He also appreciated the Government of Pakistan for its stance on the incidents of desecration and burning of the Holy Quran.