ISLAMABAD - Tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a threat to the Muslim Ummah, the National Assembly was told yesterday.

Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said terrorists can benefit from the prevailing tense situation.

Saudi Arabia and Iran could be at the verge of war after tensions erupted into a full-blown diplomatic crisis as Riyadh and its allies severed or reduced ties with Tehran, sparking global concern.

In a policy statement in the National Assembly, Aziz said Pakistan was concerned over the tensions between the two countries. He further said Muslim Ummah was facing severe threats and challenges in the prevailing circumstances.

The adviser said, being the friend of Saudi Arabia and Iran, Pakistan will try to bridge the divide and improve relationship between the two countries. He said Pakistan will continue to play its positive role as an important member of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Aziz said after the visit of Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir to Pakistan on Thursday, he will be able to give a more detailed statement on the issue of tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran and other related issues.

Aziz hoped Saudi Arabia and Iran would restore relations through dialogue sooner or later. He said it was the responsibility of both the nations to provide safety to the diplomatic missions.

He said for the last two and a half years, Pakistan’s foreign policy was very positive and it had achieved a number of successes in terms of improving relations with different countries. The adviser said tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran was a very sensitive issue and the government was playing a balanced role in this regard. He assured the house that the opinion of members of the House will also be taken in this regard.

On a point of order, opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah said Pakistan should play an active role to defuse the present tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran. He called for an in-camera session to discuss the row.

Shah demanded the government clear its constraints and ties with the countries as Saudi-Iran tiff could affect the entire region.

The opposition leader criticised Aziz for his statement terming it a Foreign Office’s press release sounding like words of a ‘weak and helpless state.’

He demanded of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to play an effective role. Shah advised the PM to approach Muslim countries in the region and help reduce the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Shireen Mazari, Sahibzada Tariqullah, Syed Asif Hasnain, Shah G Gul Afridi and Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed also blamed the government for taking decisions out of the parliament. They urged the government to take the house into confidence on such important developments.

The opposition lawmakers suggested the government should immediately send delegations to Saudi Arabia and Iran to find a solution.

Meanwhile, responding to a call-attention notice, Information Minister Pervez Rashid said efforts were being made to ensure that no programme, news or advertisement against “our social norms” runs on the television channels.

The minister said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority had issued notices, warnings and imposed fine on indecent programmes or advertisements.

He said Pemra imposed Rs one million fine each on two television channels, but they got stay orders from the court. “Now it is up to the courts to decide the matter,” Rashid added. Three private members bills, ‘The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 ‘moved by Dr Nikhat Shakeel Khan, ‘The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2016’ by Asiya Nasir and ‘The National Conflict of Interest Bill, 2016’ moved by Murad Saeed, were also introduced in the house. The chair referred the bills to the standing committees concerned for deliberations.