The Middle East (ME) is in flux. Direct conflicts, as well as indirect and proxy wars that are being fought in the region, can result in an all-out war that will drag many countries in the conflict. Given the close relations that Pakistan has with some of the countries in the region, many feared that Pakistan would not be able to avoid being a party should any such war break. However, the government of Pakistan has made the right choice of not taking sides in case any conflict surfaces. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi has made it clear to his counterparts from Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. The government deserves appreciation for remaining neutral in any such situation.

Pakistan’s history is a classic case study that demonstrates the flaws of a foreign policy that is erected on taking sides in a conflict between other nations. It is welcome that the policymakers and rulers of the country have realised this. It is encouraging that our government is not only relying on the principle of non-alignment, but it’s also making efforts to mediate between some of the most influential Muslim countries.

In recent times, Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan emerged as a statesman who sincerely believes in peace. He had offered his services to both the United States (US) and Iran to deescalate the tensions between them. Likewise, he wants Saudi Arabia and Iran to sort out their differences through dialogue. And his assurance to both sides to play a constructive role in bridging the widening gulf between them shows the humanistic nature of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Such gestures and the words of FM Mr Qureshi that Pakistan would neither allow its soil against any country nor become part of any regional conflict attest the positive and much-needed change in our foreign policy.

Similarly, the words of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor indicate that both the civilian and military leaderships of the country are on the same page in this regard. While the leadership of the country has brushed aside all sorts of rumours related to Pakistan’s role in the possible conflict in the region, the government needs to refrain its ministers from making irresponsible comments. For instance, the recent remarks of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri at a ceremony were not in line with the government’s stance. Such statements can cause more harm to Pakistan’s interests than anything else.