Perhaps it is a signal of changing dynamics of regional politics that within a short space of time the Iranian president visited Pakistan and the Indian Prime Minister travelled to Saudi Arabia – a fact unimaginable in the atmosphere of a few decades ago. What is also surprising is that not only has this outreach happened it has resulted in concrete viable progress for all four parties. It is undeniable that it is time to re-evaluate old notions of diplomacy. The newer bonds are being built on shared economic progress rather that ideological or religious basis – and Pakistan needs to adapt.

Although similar in nature, the Iran visit and the Saudi Arabia visit by Modi have borne different results. Pakistan and Iran made guarded progress, and the focus was on fixing damaged elements – such as Pakistan’s part of the gas pipeline – as opposed to novel and mutually lucrative projects. Simply speaking India has been able to offer more, in terms of economic potential, to both Iran and Saudi Arabia. In the words of Modi at an address in Riyadh “India has three benefits, skilled youth, demand and democracy”. For the business sectors in the Kingdom, this is the perfect environment. By contrast, Pakistan has potential, but it is always present as “future” potential, dependent on under-construction infrastructure projects and an ongoing military operation. There is always something impeding the progress of development, which makes Pakistan a less-appealing investment possibility. Not only that, but beyond investment, there isn’t much that Pakistan can offer. On a mutually beneficial partnership, investment can come from both sides, and with India’s improving economy, this will no longer be another pipe deal for its government. If the situation stays the same much longer, Pakistan will be eclipsed by regional economies.

It is important to understand that the promise of economic bonanza feeds into politics too. Iran’s response to Pakistani problems regarding terrorism and Saudi Arabia’s response to India’s is equally imbalanced. The narrative of ‘brotherly’ relations between nations is fading, and a more cut-throat, more prudent one is taking its place. This works well for India, and Pakistan needs to realise that it can no longer pin it’s hopes on having a relationship because of the same ideological path taken. Pakistan needs to ensure that it holds up its end of the deal concerning Iran, and makes Saudi Arabia understand that military assistance offered from this end does not come for free. That is the only means to keep its relationship with both relevant.