Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to leave for Saudi Arabia and Iran on Saturday in the wake of unrest between the two Middle East nations, to mediate between the two. As per officials of Pakistan, the premier is scheduled to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, after which he would leave to meet the monarch in the Kingdom.
At a press briefing on Thursday, the Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal confirmed Khan's upcoming trip. "The visits of the Imran Khan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are on the cards," he said. "I will update you as and when things unfold," he added.
According to Pakistan media reports, the Pakistani PM's visit comes at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who reached out to Khan and Iran to ease the tensions in the Middle East soaring between Iran and Saudi Arabia and their allies. Consequent to the attack on two oil facilities of Saudi on September 14, Riyadh has asked Islamabad and Baghdad to speak to the Iranian leadership, as the hostility in the region, according to The New York Times.
According to international reports, it was after US President Donald Trump's denial to retaliate over the attack on Saudi Arabia's energy installment, that instigated Crown Prince to "seek its own solution to the conflict." NYT, while quoting the unnamed Iraqi and Pakistani officials, said that MBS told Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan that "I want to avoid war" and asked him to mediate.
Addressing a roundtable conference hosted by the Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on Mediation in the Persian Gulf: Initiatives, Strategies, and Obstacles', former foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry stated that Pakistan has strong credentials for such a role, but at the same time there are serious challenges involving deep mistrust, considering the fact that Riyadh fears about the soaring Iranian influence and regional power play, Pakistani news media reported.
"This is a timely and historic initiative. We, however, have to be realistic because of the difficult and complex issues involved in this rivalry," Chaudhry said, adding that if these disputes were not addressed now, global politics would further deepen the gulf.
However, there were reports suggesting that Mohammed bin Salman ordered his private jet to disembark the Pakistani delegation' after Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince was left "alienated" with "some dimensions" of Khan's diplomacy during the 74th UNGA week in New York. According to claims by a Pakistani magazine the Kingdom's Crown Prince was miffed with Imran Khan's "interlocution" with the foe, Iran's Hassan Rouhani.
(With agency inputs)