The United States’ reimposed sanctions on Iran have put Pakistan in a dilemma. Pakistan will find itself between a rock and a hard place in the days ahead. Islamabad is reassessing the impacts of the US sanctions on Tehran and what these sanctions mean for Pakistan.
In the process of gauging the impacts, the relevant ministries, however, need to adopt a balanced approach while realigning its regional and international relations. Pakistan relies on Tehran for import of fuel products and its energy needs. While responding to the US sanctions on Iran, Islamabad should prioritise its interests instead of succumbing to the US pressure.
Both neighbouring countries share historical and cultural ties along with a common border. Recently, both neighbouring nations saw a thaw in bilateral relations after a long time. The positive developments in our relationships with Tehran should not go to waste. The incoming government should adopt a measured approach while responding to the US demands against Tehran. As, for Islamabad, a complete break in ties with Tehran is easier said than done.
Policy makers and the incoming government in Islamabad need to rely on diplomacy with the US as far as trade with Iran is concerned. Pakistan should try for negotiating waivers about Iran from the US. The Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan in his victory speech already hinted that Islamabad and Washington would enjoy good relations, however, the urgency of now demands to show diplomatic dexterity over transactional orthodoxy. What is expected from the sloganeer of Naya Pakistan is a new foreign policy with the principle of non-alignment at its centre.
It is hoped that Imran Khan and his team will settle the crisis adeptly while not allowing Iran to be the third wheel in Pakistan-US relations. Moreover, considering the experts’ opinion regional powers like Russia and especially China will come to Iran’s rescue as the latter is as central to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as Pakistan is. Therefore, following American sanctions to isolate and strangle Iran will not benefit Pakistan at all considering the changing geo-political situation around the world.
In the midst of so many crises, Pakistan needs to look at and solve the problem from multiple dimensions. On the one hand, it needs to argue for waivers regarding oil and energy trade from America. On the other hand, Islamabad needs to lead by example by bringing its two brothers, i.e., Iran and Saudi Arabia together, when many experts on international affairs do not let go the possibility of Saudi Arabia’s role in the undermining of the deal. Pakistan should stand with Iran in these testing times.