Sharif likely to visit Iran next month

Published April 24, 2014
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — File photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is likely to visit Iran next month on a two-day visit for a reset in relationship with its western neighbour.

The trip scheduled to begin on May 11 has not been officially announced as yet.

The visit is being seen in the diplomatic circles as a balancing act that Pakistan has to do in its regional relationships with Saudi Arabia and Iran.

A flurry of visits from Riyadh earlier this year and Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s trip to Saudi ­Arabia had given the impression of growing affinity between the two countries, which caused concern in Tehran.

Pakistan’s decision to delay the Iran gas pipeline project because of sanctions on Tehran was interpreted as a consequence of intensifying Saudi influence on Islamabad.

The second incident of abduction of Iranian border guards in months added to strains between the two countries, but luckily Pakistan’s link could not be proved and the matter now stands resolved.

The government has repeatedly said that it has desired good ties with Iran, but there is little substance from both sides to match the intentions.

The two countries had first planned a joint ministerial commission to precede prime minister’s visit to Iran so that a substantive agenda could be set, but later settled for political consultations.

Prime Minister Sharif during the visit would, analysts say, do a lot of explaining about Pakistan’s policy towards the region in an attempt to build the missing goodwill.

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