Iran and six major world powers (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) reached a nuclear deal on July 14, 2015 in Vienna, the Austrian capital, finalizing more than a decade of negotiations with the historic accord that could transform the Middle East or perhaps even its neighboring countries such as Pakistan. To simplify, under the deal, Iran will be restrained from creating a nuclear bomb in return for the lifting of economic and political sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations. It is a fantastic accomplishment of modern day diplomacy. Resultantly, on July 20, 2015, the Security Council at the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the nuclear deal with Iran and the European Union had also approved the deal. The UN and EU are sending a clear signal to the U.S. Congress that now has 60 days to decide whether to approve or reject the deal and most probably U.S. Congress will follow the signal since President Barack Obama also made it clear that he will veto any decision rejecting the Iran deal.

The world leaders have declared the deal as a historic achievement and great victory. The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the historic deal opened a new chapter in Iran’s relation with the world. U.S President Barack Obama hailed it as step towards a more hopeful world. However, United States’ closest allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia are calling it a stunning historic mistake that would provide Iran with hundreds of billions of US dollars and resultantly, Iran will emerge as the most powerful player in the region. It seems to be a clear case of love lost between the old allies since President Obama is firmly taking a different line: “This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction, we should seize it”, President Obama said.

Interestingly, Israel and Saudi Arabia have tied the knot few years ago. What is the cause behind this unholy alliance? The reason is simple and easy to understand. Israel and Saudi Arabia have a common enemy (Iran) and they have similar political interests in the Middle East. Empirical findings show that Saudi Arabia and Iran have been fighting proxy wars to increase their regional influence in the Muslim world. Iran’s unconditional support for Palestine issue and alleged patronage of the Lebanese resistance are the basis of conflict with Israel.

It must be understood that the objective of the foreign policy of any state is to secure its national interest. There is no permanent friend or foe in politics. Until recently, it was considered contemptuous even to think that someday United States will take a stance against the wishes of Israel and Saudi Arabia – Times have changed therefore, the policies have to change. President Obama is changing the course of history by making peace with old enemies such as Iran and Cuba (another historic achievement).

History is being created in Pakistan’s neighborhood. Where does Pakistan stand in all of this?

Pakistan has precisely supported the deal. The lifting of economic sanctions will generate trade activity of hundreds of billions of dollars not only for oil rich Iran but also for the countries having close economic relations with Iran. Pak-Iran relations have a tumultuous history from the days of General Zia’s regime and his legacy continued until recently when President Zardari (PPP) tried to change the policy towards Iran by initiating projects such as Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Pakistan must stay away from the power struggle in the Middle East. Pakistan should play its role for peace, and should not take any sides in the proxy wars in the Middle East. Pakistan may disagree with Iran on many issues but economic co-operation is mutually beneficial for both countries particularly for Pakistan. After the initiation of Pak-China Economic Corridor, the lifting of economic sanctions from oil rich neighbor Iran is the most significant news for Pakistan. The Federal Government of Pakistan should vigorously use all channels including back door diplomacy to strength relations with Iran; otherwise, India will do maximum efforts to sabotage Pakistan’s interest. We must remember: This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction, Pakistan should seize it.

The writer is a barrister based in Islamabad.