ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s mediation visit to Saudi Arabia for finding a diplomatic solution to the Qatar crisis did not achieve any immediate breakthrough.
Mr Sharif returned to Islamabad in the early hours of Tuesday after a day-long visit to Jeddah, where he met King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and urged an early resolution of “the impasse in Gulf … in the best interest of Ummah”.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), King Salman and Mr Sharif discussed the “latest regional developments” in addition to bilateral relations.
The Saudi monarch responded by telling Mr Sharif that “the fight against extremism and terrorism is in the interest of all Muslims and the Ummah”.
Saudi Arabia and its allies, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, cut off diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar on June 5 on the pretext that its policies are fuelling extremism and terrorism. The crisis erupted late last month over fears that Qatar was trying to improve its ties with Iran, which Saudi Arabia and its allies wanted to be isolated.
The SPA, while announcing the severing of relations with Qatar, had said it had been done for “protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.
Qatar, meanwhile, has indicated that it was willing to address concerns of the countries that ended diplomatic relations with it.
The current crisis in the Gulf is said to be the gravest that the Gulf Cooperation Council has faced in its nearly four decades of existence, although Qatar’s relations with Saudi Arabia and some other Arab neighbours have not always been good.
Other diplomatic efforts have so far not been successful in defusing tensions either.
Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber Al Sabah, who has been leading the diplomatic initiative, vowed to continue his efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis despite remaining unsuccessful in his earlier bid.
Mr Sharif, who is walking a diplomatic tightrope in the Saudi-Qatar row because of strong ties with both sides, reiterated Islamabad’s continued support for Riyadh.
“The Prime Minister reaffirmed the strong commitment of the people and the government of Pakistan to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Kingdom, and the safety of Harmain al Sharifain,” a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said.
King Salman assured Mr Sharif of his support “for all issues of interest to Pakistan, including matters of its national security”.
Mr Sharif was accompanied by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2017