Expressing satisfaction at the upward trajectory of bilateral relations, Pakistan and Iran have agreed to further boost existing cooperation, particularly in the economic sector. The consensus to this effect was expressed during a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Iranian President-elect Syed Ebrahim Raisi the other day, according to a statement issued from the Prime Minister’s Office. Referring to the opening of three markets along the border between the two countries in June this year, the two leaders affirmed that the establishment of markets is an “important” step, which would yield economic and social benefits for the people of both countries. The two countries are sorting out different ways, including a free trade agreement, to boost their trivial bilateral trade volume. Currently, the bilateral trade between the two neighbours stands at $359 million. Last September, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the establishment of 18 markets along the borders of Iran and Afghanistan. Of them, 12 will be established near the Afghanistan border. In the regional context, Khan and Raeisi discussed the worsening security situation in Afghanistan following the largely completed US pull-out from the war-torn country. The prime minister cautioned that the latest developments could lead to “serious” repercussions for both Pakistan and Iran, resulting in an influx of refugees towards the bordering areas of the two countries. Khan underscored the imperative of a negotiated political solution to the decades-long conflict in the war-raked country, the statement said. The two sides emphasised the need to continue facilitating an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” inclusive political settlement. The two countries together have already been hosting nearly five million Afghan refugees.