Iran was sidelined in the US-Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh this weekend. This is not the first time that the Muslim World under the influence of Saudi Arabia has cornered Iran, and the repercussions will be felt in Syria and Iraq. The country was also previously ignored while talks of a Muslim NATO were underway. This will not help tensions between Pakistan and Iran; especially after Pakistan’s claims of remaining neutral in the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

It was evident after the formation of the Muslim NATO that it was not necessarily a union of the Muslim world against terrorism but a coalition of the Sunni majority countries and especially Saudi Arabia’s effort to balance power in the Middle East. Iran has time and again expressed concerns over the matter.

Amongst these tensions, there was firing at the Iranian borders that resulted in the killing of nine Iranian guards. This further agitated the country and there are clear cleavages in our relationship with Iran. They also accused us of housing terrorists and ending the ties unless we figure out who was behind border security lapses.

Time and again, the federal government has failed to prioritise the relationship with our neighbours. Iran is clearly not happy with how the situation has unfolded. The Summit in Riyadh failed to get past the petty rivalries to address the issue of terrorism. Instead, Iran was blatantly accused of sponsoring terrorist acts, while President Trump mentioned isolating the country if need be to teach them a lesson, completely overlooking Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen.

Pakistan has always taken a stance of having balanced diplomatic relations with the two rivals, however, it seems impossible to do so after the recent episode.

On Sunday, Iran fired mortar shells into Pakistan, and a heated border is thus maintained. If there are plans of sending Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar, to Iran; they should be carried out soon. They have already threatened to attack bases if we do not contain militancy in the region.