LAHORE - Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz yesterday said Islamabad would put its own interest ahead in Saudi-Iran conflict.
Answering a question, he said the time had not come for Pakistan to play its mediatory role in the Saudi-Iran conflict. “Pakistan will certainly play its mediatory role when the time comes,” Aziz said. He, however, asserted Pakistan’s own security and interests would be kept above everything else in this regard.
The statement is significant as it comes only a day before the Saudi defence minister’s visit to Pakistan . Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman is due to arrive in Islamabad today (Sunday) to discuss Pakistan’s cooperation in the 34-nation coalition of Islamic countries, the Kingdom recently formed ostensibly to fight terrorism and extremism.
Four days ago Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir paid a six-hour visit to Islamabad and held talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif.
Saudi Arabia wants Pakistan to join the coalition of which Syria, Iran and Iraq are not a part. Pakistan supports the initiative against terrorism, but is unwilling to become a party against any country.
Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan would keep in mind the reservations of Saudi Arabia and Iran . He said while Pakistan wanted the Islamic world to play a role in defusing tensions between the two countries, it would also ensure that the motherland was not hit by sectarianism. He added Pakistan did not want tension to aggravate between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have a long background of Arab and Ajam (non-Arab) tussle and the current standoff is being judged in this background. Pakistan fears tension between the two on these lines should not be exploited by terrorists to create chaos, he added. He said Pakistan also did not want Saudi-Iran tension to paint sectarian colour, so the situation demanded extreme care about its handling.