LAHORE - A former federal minister and ambassador says Prime Minister Imran Khan should mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran to iron out differences between the two Islamic countries which are the major reason behind the OIC’s weakness at present.

“Imran Khan is the only leader who can take this initiative,” said Begum Abida Hussain while talking to The Nation at her Gulberg residence on Thursday.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have always been tense expect for some brief spells and the two states have consistently been using their energies against each other. When Iraq was at war with Iran shortly after the revolution brought about by Ayatollah Khomeini, KSA and other Arab countries supported Iraq for eight years. The two countries are also supporting rival sides in the wars in Yemen and Syria. The gains made by one side are regarded as a loss by the other.

The two countries have no diplomatic relations since January 2016 when Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked by a mob in reaction to the execution of a religious scholar by the kingdom.

A leader from Jhang who has been in politics for the last 45 years and has also been ambassador to US, Begum Abida said OIC had gone very weak as a result of strained KSA-Iran relations. She said there was an urgent need for an initiative to defuse tensions between the two countries, and in her opinion Imran Khan was the only leader who was in a position to assume this role. “The gap is bridgeable,” she said while talking of the proposed initiative yielding positive results.

The veteran leader said disunity among the Islamic countries was forcing them to make individual efforts to get closer to the United States, ignoring the collective benefit of the Ummah.

Once the Islamic countries get united, they will become a formidable force that no country would be able to challenge, said Abida, who is the spouse of senior leader Syed Fakhr Imam, elected as MNA from Khanewal seat in the recent elections. He is also a former speaker of the National Assembly and a federal minister.

Begum Abida was of the view that liberation of Al-Quds from illegal Israeli occupation would not be possible unless there was unity among the Islamic states. A demand made collectively by the Islamic world would be difficult for anyone to ignore, she said, emphasising that unity must be sustained at all costs.

About the results of the July 25 general elections as a result of which the PPP was limited mainly to Sindh and PML-N to Punjab, Begum Abida said the regionalisation of these parties had paved the way for the PTI to emerge as the major player at the national level. In her assessment the PPP and the PML-N would never again be the same parties, a situation that would benefit the PTI.

However, she said, the PTI would have to come up to the expectations of the electorate to be able to stay in power for long. In case it failed to deliver, it would face an uncertain future, she said. Answering a question, she said the political leadership should make themselves accountable first to the party and then to the public at large. This done, she said, the ruling party would grow in strength as well as popularity. According to her, the existing political system was perfect, having no flaws whatsoever. The only problem is that the top leaders have the tendency to become dictators, considering themselves above accountability.