ISLAMABAD - The United States and Russia have acknowledged Pakistan’s reconciliatory efforts in Saudi Arabia-Iran conflict, official sources said yesterday.

As tension escalated between the two Islamic countries, Islamabad said it will play a proactive role for diffusing tension between the two nations. PM Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan would play a mediator’s role. He feared terrorists and extremists could take advantage of the worsening ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Raheel Sharif visited Riyadh and Tehran to hold talks with the Saudi and Iranian leadership on the issue.

However, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir denied the existence of any Pakistani mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. He said many countries have come forward with mediation offers, which have been dismissed by Riyadh. “A lot of countries have offered mediation and delivered ideas between Saudi and Iran but there is no need for this because the Kingdom is aware of its rights and Iran knows what has to be done,” Al-Jubeir said. “There won’t be any mediation because, for 35 years, Iran has adopted a hostile approach toward Arab countries by meddling in their internal affairs, sowing sectarian strife and backing terrorism as confirmed by numerous strong evidences,” he added.

Iran is among the terrorism-supportive countries listed by the UN and several states other than Saudi Arabia, he pointed out.

Saudi Arabia severed all diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3, a move that was followed by several other Arab countries, including Bahrain.

But despite Al-Jubeir’s statement, diplomatic sources said Pakistan and some other influential countries were playing their role of peacemakers.

Diplomatic sources said there was no need for extensive talks between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran if the role was meaningless. Pakistan, the sources said, played - and was playing - its part to ensure peace between the two Islamic nations.

Senior government officials told The Nation, Washington and Moscow had appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to prevent a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

An official at the Foreign Ministry said the White House acknowledged the role played by Pakistan at a time when a war looked imminent.

“Washington believes continuous efforts could bring the two sides on the table and save the region from a destructive war which could engulf the region,” he said. Another official said Moscow had also contacted Islamabad to recognise the ‘wise role’ it played when Riyadh and Tehran threatened to go into a full-fledged war.

Top officials from Moscow contacted their counterparts in Islamabad to convey the appreciation of the Kremlin. Russia itself has been harsh to Saudi Arabia due to Riyadh’s hostility towards Syria and in the past vowed to support Syria if attacked by the Saudis or their allies.

When Riyadh prepared to launch attack on Syria with the help of US and its western allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared ‘Saudi Arabia will be utterly destroyed and annihilated’ by Russia’s military if the US or any other Western nation so much as fires one missile at Syria.

The official said Moscow was pleased with the way Pakistan avoided taking sides and chose to play a mediator’s role. “Moscow considers this a big effort as a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran could pit so many countries against each other,” the official added.

He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his team were overjoyed with the world response to their efforts for peace in the Middle East. “Islamabad will continue its bid for peace and try to bring the two friendly countries to the table. There is no point in war,” the official said.

Diplomats said Washington and Moscow agreed Pakistan’s role had enhanced its image globally.

Former ambassador Mushtaq Ahmed Mehr said Pakistan was playing a vital role to defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. “International community has been appreciating Pakistan’s efforts in this regard. Pakistan has vital importance among the Muslim countries and defusing tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia is in the national interest of Pakistan,” he commented. Defence analyst Lt General Talat Masood (retd) however, did not see any prospects for Pakistan’s campaign.

“It might defuse the immediate tension for the time being, but in the long-run, nothing will change. The very complex and ongoing power struggle between the two countries will continue, and it is beyond Pakistan’s capacity to deal with it,” he remarked.