Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran both have immense importance for Pakistan. Iran was the first country which recognized Pakistan. Saudi Arabia is the most sacred place for the Muslims as, among others, there are two most important holy sites. Both of these countries have been supporting Pakistan from the very beginning of its creation. Concurrently, keeping them close and maintaining strong acquaintance is becoming a tougher task as both have intensified the campaigns to tarnish each other’s image. The instances of Yemen, Syria, Libya, Palestine and other parts of the world – where the Muslims Sunni and Shias are present – are evident. 

Pakistan, consisting of about 80% Sunnis, 20% Shias and others, has only two options – either to stay away from this conflict or to join any side. The latter option is quite perilous and being demanded to opt by both these states. KSA is forcing Pakistan to pick it and curtail its relations with Iran. The supposed denunciation from the side of Pakistan seems to be the foremost rationale for giving Narendra Modi the red carpet treatment from the Saudis. On the other side, Iran is also not happy with Pakistan and has raised objections on accepting the leadership of fourty-one nation Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC). Iran believes that the coalition has been formed against it. General (r) Raheel Sharif is heading this alliance. He has emphatically said that it was not formed against any country but getting shut of the menace of terrorism. 

Both of them-KSA and Iran- have been protecting their interests, and it is time for Pakistan to protect its own. Instead of indulging into internal stifle, it is better to have a dexterous and striking team of foreign affairs led by Foreign Minister that it does not possess at the moment. 

JUNAID ALI MALIK,  

Lahore, December 21.