Since the British drew lines in the sand to create different nations in the Middle East, the region has hardly experienced a prolonged period of peace. Till today, the ruling Arab elite have continued to fight each other. Either geopolitics or sectarianism or support for rival political groups has undermined the ties between the neighbouring Arab countries. The recent Saudi-Qatar crisis contains all these aspects as the causes.

Some observers see this new rift in the Gulf as the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region since the Gulf War in 1991. The steps taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies are an effort to isolate Qatar in the international society.

However, Doha is engaged in a proactive diplomatic strategy to counter the isolation. Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Muhammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani, met Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif, on Tuesday, and briefed him on the current situation in the Persian Gulf. The visiting Foreign Minister wants Pakistan’s help to end regional tension.

Though Saudi Arabia has asked Pakistan to support Saudi-led alliance against Qatar, Pakistan has chosen not to do so. In the recent past, Pakistan has taken some bold and intelligent steps as far as the situation in the Middle East is concerned. Since Pakistan enjoys warm relations with both countries, it is not wise to take sides. Therefore, Islamabad has chosen to remain neutral in the ongoing hostilities between neighbouring Arab countries. Given the nature of Pakistan’s relations with both countries, keeping the principle of non-alignment supreme is a reasonable move but Pakistan also needs to engage in proactive diplomatic efforts to ease the tensions.

All experts and those who have an eye on the region are advising both sides to the conflict not to lose their cool. They are requesting the parties to come to a dialogue table. Pakistani Prime Minister, too, has requested both countries to engage in proactive diplomacy so that a solution can be carved out. With the former COAS as the head of the Saudi-led Muslim NATO and the (Nawaz) Sharif family’s own close ties with the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, perhaps these positions of influence can be used to make the Saudi alliance come to the negotiation table at the very least.

The Saudi alliance should not forget that its move to isolate Qatar would not affect Qatar only. In fact, it will have a disastrous effect on the entire region at a time when it is already in shambles.