Pakistan army chief
Pakistan's Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is in Iran for a three-day visit Reuters file photo

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, has reached Iran for a crucial bilateral visit to strengthen relations between the two neighbours. The influential military chief, who is leading a huge high-ranking delegation of authorities, is also expected to meet Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Bajwa's three-day visit has been kept low-key by both the countries as they hope this visit will overcome the rough phase in their ties. He is in Iran at the invitation of Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri.

"COAS [Chief of Army Staff] arrived Tehran, Iran on official visit. Scheduled to meet Iranian civilian and military leadership," read a tweet from the Pakistani army's media arm ISPR that did not release any detailed statement on the matter.

This is the first time a Pakistani army chief is visiting in more than two decades. In Pakistan, the military has a big say in domestic and external security matters, intelligence and foreign policy.

Bajwa's visit will provide an opportunity for Iran and Pakistan to discuss a range of issues including defence, security cooperation and safekeeping of sensitive border points. On Monday, 6 November, the army chiefs of both the countries held talks on regional security matters.

The army chiefs "stressed the need for expansion of defence and security relations aimed at resolving common issues, particularly in identifying and combating factors that cause the spread of terrorist activities along Iran and Pakistan's shared borders", according to a report carried by Iran's state-backed Mehr News.

Only recently, Iran's ambassador to Pakistan met Bajwa and discussed border management and other security arrangements ahead of the latter's arrival in Iran.

Though Iran and Pakistan aim to maintain "brotherly relations" the countries have often found themselves on opposite sides of the geopolitical spectrum on key regional and global matters. While Tehran is majorly concerned about the use of regions near the Iran-Pakistan border as a safe haven for extremists, Islamabad is equally worried about Iran's increasing proximity with India. Iran, a regional Shia heavyweight in the Middle East, has also been watching Islamabad with suspicion over its close ties with Sunni Arab monarchies.