The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government’s announcement of the Premier’s visit to Saudi Arabia on September 19, most likely comes as a result of the attack on a Saudi oil facility over the weekend. With 5 percent of the world’s oil supply adversely affected, both Saudi Arabia and the US have pointed towards Iran as the most likely suspect, and with investigations ongoing, the region might see a flare-up of violence if both sides do not look towards de-escalating immediately.

The Prime Minister’s diplomatic outreach in this tumultuous time is appreciated. However, lest we forget, India’s brutal occupation of Kashmir continues, with recent reports of torture by the armed forces in a bid to keep Kashmiris from opposing Indian subjugation. The Prime Minister has promised the people of Kashmir of his role in highlighting the issue internationally, and it would be a terrible shame if this meeting between the Kingdom and Pakistan features more discussion on the Saudi-Iran conflict than any support for the Kashmir cause.

And quite obviously, if PM Khan visits Saudi Arabia in the same week as one of the biggest attacks of sabotage on its oil production capabilities, Saudi Arabia will not be looking to discuss other issues with much seriousness. This is problematic diplomatic contact; its hurts our own objectives at the cost of providing the Saudi Kingdom with a loyal ally. Saudi Arabia is the only one who benefits from this visit.

After only one phone call, the Prime Minister of Pakistan offered his unwavering support to the Saudi government in its conflict with Iran, promising “its full stand with all its potentials in confronting” these acts of sabotage “which threaten the global economy and the kingdom’s security.” Perhaps the government has forgotten that taking Saudi Arabia’s side in this fight entails setting ourselves against neighbouring Iran, something that we cannot possibly afford given our fraught relationship with two neighbouring countries, India and Afghanistan. Pakistan cannot put itself at odds against another neighbour without the risk of getting surrounded. India has already made overtures to Iran and enjoys positive relations with Afghanistan; do we really want another neighbour to side with it in its designs to destabilise the country? We need to take a hard look at what we want our priorities to be; if the government does not see Kashmir as one of them, perhaps the people made a mistake by voting PTI into power.