ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his meeting with Saudi royals on Monday urged the Kingdom to resolve its differences with rival Iran peacefully, Radio Pakistan reported.
The premier said Pakistan is following a policy of promoting brotherhood among members of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), adding that confrontation damages the larger interest of Muslim Ummah.
PM Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif arrived in Riyadh Monday to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran amid growing fears that a prolonged confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia could have serious consequences for the region.
After arrival, General Raheel Sharif also held a meeting with the Saudi defence minister, said a statement from ISPR.
The premier and army chief, earlier today traveled to Saudi Arabia in the same plane, and will later visit Tehran in an attempt to persuade the two rivals to de-escalate and resolve their disputes diplomatically.
They are accompanied by National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi.
The prime minister will meet Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Jan 19 at the Presidential Palace, said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.
On the same day, the statement said, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will travel to Zurich to attend the World Economic Forum being held in Davos.
“Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will lead a high-level delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran on Jan 18-19 to exchange views on regional and international issues,” said an official statement released by the Foreign Office on Sunday.
With the army chief in the delegation, the visit has assumed added importance and it is hoped that Pakistan would make a serious attempt to defuse tension between the two countries, Dawn newspaper reported.
'Policy of promoting brotherhood'
“Pakistan is deeply concerned at the recent escalation of tension between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The prime minister has called for resolution of differences through peaceful means, in the larger interest of Muslim unity, particularly during these challenging times,” added the official release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday.
It further said that Pakistan had consistently advocated the policy of promoting brotherhood among member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The Foreign Office said in its statement that Pakistan enjoyed cordial and brotherly relations with both the countries, which were characterised by strong bonds of affinity, mutual respect and solidarity, and drew strength from shared historical, cultural and Islamic values.
Although, the two countries have been on the opposing sides for a long time, on matters relating to the Middle East or international issues, Riyadh and Tehran have of late become quite aggressive against each other.
The execution earlier this month of Saudi dissident Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr, who was a fierce critic of the royal family, sparked tensions bordering almost on hostility between the two countries.
Riyadh snapped diplomatic relations with Tehran after its embassy in Iran was ransacked by protesters.
A wise step
With Pakistan embroiled in its own fight against terrorism, the sudden spike in rivalry between its two friendly countries put additional strains on the civil and military leadership.
Analysts regard the leadership’s diplomatic initiative a wise step to help Riyadh and Tehran prevent the current tensions from taking a hazardous turn which could endanger peace of the entire region.
Moreover, with successful culmination of talks between big powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear issue, Pakistan certainly eyes certain economic benefits from Tehran re-entering world trade. “With Iran re-joining the world trade, Pakistan can look forward to meeting its energy needs from across the border by completing the pending gas pipeline,” remarked an analyst.