Pak PM Saudi visit not to harm Pak-Iran ties: Analysts

Islamabad, Sept 18, IRNA - Senior Pakistani analysts strongly believe that the upcoming visit to Saudi Arbia of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will have no impact on Iran-Pakistan ties.

Speaking to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) separately, the analysts said Pakistan was seeking good ties both with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

A Pakistan's foreign ministry statement said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will undertake a state visit to Saudi Arabia from 18-19 September 2018 on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Foreign Minister, Minister for Finance and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce.

“The Prime Minister will call on King Salman and hold a bilateral meeting with the Crown Prince,” the statement said.

Earlier a media report had said that Riyadh wants Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to openly support the Saudi-led military alliance.

Recent Saudi engagements with the new government in Pakistan explicitly state the kingdom’s desire for having strong relationship with Pakistan despite the fact that the latter had already announced its keenness for stronger ties with Iran.

Defense analyst Lieutenant General (Retd) Talat Masood told IRNA that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have very long tradition of having strong strategic relationship and it is based on mutual interests.

“There has been lot of interaction and convergence between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as far as the strategic thinking is concerned,” he said.

Masood added that Pakistan also tried to develop very strong and stable relations with Iran and obviously it hurts Pakistan and other Muslim countries that the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia is very tense and ‘we hope that in long term the things would be better and present state of affairs will be over.’

“Another dimension to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia is financial assistance that Saudi Arabia has extended to Pakistan,” he said.

The analyst was of the view that Saudi led military alliance would be a subject in the discussions between the two states but Pakistan does not allow its troops to be used outside Saudi Arabia.

“I don’t think so that the visit would impact Pakistan’s ties with Iran,” Talat Masood said.

He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan has already said that it is not a zero sum game and he hopes that relation between Iran and Pakistan would continue to grow because it is in the interest of both countries.

“Iran and Pakistan share a common border, both are Muslim countries, there is mutuality of interest in terms of having a good relationship and Pakistan in modest way also tried to play a positive role to normalize relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” the expert noted.

He went on to say that Imran Khan in his initial statements said that he would like the two countries to have better ties with each other.

Saudi Arabia announced the military alliance in December 2015, when it described Daesh as a disease tarnishing the Muslim faith. However, critics say said the alliance, which has about 40 members, appears to be aimed at Iran.

Reports said the Saudi leadership wants Prime Minister Imran Khan to publicly back the military alliance.

Meanwhile, former ambassador and Executive Director of the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) Ali Sarwar Naqvi talking to IRNA said that visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia is just a normal visit.

He added that the Prime Minister will also visit China and he might travel to Iran in the future.

He said that the visits will strengthen Pakistan’s cooperation with its neighboring states.

The analyst said that Prime Minister Imran Khan while announcing foreign policy of the country had already expressed his desire to develop strong ties with Iran.

Pakistan’s parliament had also passed a resolution proposing that Pakistan 'should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis”.

Pakistan also remained neutral on Saudi blockade of Qatar and continued to develop strong ties with the Persian Gulf state.

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