Pakistan’s PM to Visit Tehran Soon

Pakistan’s PM to Visit Tehran Soon
Pakistan’s PM to Visit Tehran Soon

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will soon make a maiden visit to Tehran, which observers see as part of Pakistan’s efforts to maintain a delicate balance in its ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“The visit is expected to take place this month as dates are being worked out,” a senior Foreign Office official told Express Tribune on Tuesday.
The visit has been due since Khan took over as prime minister in August last year.
However, tensions triggered by border incidents and a militant attack targeting Iran’s Revolution Guards Corps in February prevented the two sides from finalizing the visit.
The friction has eased in recent weeks after Pakistan managed to free several abducted Iranian border guards and gave assurance that Islamabad would not allow its soil to be used against the neighboring country.
In a recent interaction with a group of journalists, Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoust also confirmed the easing of tensions as the two sides agreed not to allow “third parties” to undermine their longstanding relationship.
During his visit to Tehran, the Pakistani premier will hold formal talks with the Iranian president and also meet Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.



Crucial Trip

The visit is seen as crucial as it comes against the backdrop of a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Islamabad in February.
Relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has seen unprecedented warmth since the change of government in Islamabad, with the prime minister making back-to-back visits to Riyadh soon after taking charge.
The flurry of visits culminated with Saudi Arabia agreeing to give a bailout package for the Pakistani government to help it deal with the worsening economic crises.
In addition, Saudi Arabia’s close ally, the UAE, also extended a similar financial facility to Pakistan.
But there have been concerns that in return for the “generous support”, Pakistan may join the anti-Iran camp. Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been running high for years because of their conflicting policies on the Middle East and beyond.
Pakistan, however, has tried to stay away from the Iran-Arab disputes. Because of the same reason, the previous government led by Nawaz Sharif refused to join the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen against Houthi fighters, who are politically backed by Iran.
Officials in Islamabad said Pakistan may have “strategic relationship” with Saudi Arabia, but it also “considers Iran an important neighboring country”.
“Our close ties with Riyadh do not mean we will become part of any initiative that undermines Iran,” commented an unidentified official, adding that both Iran and Saudi Arabia “understand Pakistan’s approach”.
In the past, Pakistan tried to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia but all those diplomatic efforts failed to achieve the desired results.
Officials familiar with the agenda of the prime minister’s upcoming visit said Khan would reiterate Pakistan’s offer and call for unity among all Muslim countries to deal with common challenges.

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