During Imran Khan’s UN visit, Pakistan’s diplomatic relevance was affirmed on two other critical issues. In his interactions with President Trump, he urged the early resumption of the US-Afghan Taliban talks and conclusion of the already negotiated agreements on the withdrawal of foreign troops and counterterrorism. This will open the way for intra-Afghan talks and steps for the reduction if not end of violence in Afghanistan objectives which Pakistan has actively promoted. Hopefully, the Afghan presidential elections (Sept 28) which are opposed by the Taliban, will not disrupt the peace process.

Significantly, as mentioned by Prime Minister Khan, he was asked by both President Trump and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to help in defusing their escalating confrontation with Iran. The prime minister initiated a mediatory effort in his meeting with President Hassan Rouhani.

A de-escalation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and steps to normalise their relations, are in Pakistan’s national interest for multiple reasons. This mediatory endeavour must be pursued actively and boldly by outlining a feasible path to: reduce tensions, disavow the use of force and external intervention, promote political solutions to the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, Shia-Sunni reconciliation in Iraq and stability in Lebanon. At an appropriate time, a regional peace conference with the participation of the GCC, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan could be a useful modality to advance these objectives.

In the person of a bold, honest and dedicated leader, Pakistan has been offered an historic opportunity to address its multiple external challenges, play a constructive role in resolving regional disputes and promote critical global objectives. Success will depend crucially on the skill and diligence of Pakistan’s foreign ministry and its security agencies. They must be provided unstinted moral and material support by the government to continue to fulfil their role and responsibility.