- Nawaz asks Saudi king to resolve issues with Tehran peacefully in best interest of Muslim Ummah
- Says Pakistan is following policy of promoting brotherhood among OIC member countries
- King Salman appreciates reconciliatory efforts by Pakistani leadership, says Saudi Arabia has always strived to promote brotherhood amongst Muslim countries
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Monday began efforts to defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and urged the two countries to solve their differences peacefully in the best interest of the Muslim Ummah.
Talking to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz at the royal palace, Prime Minister Nawaz expressed concerns over the recent tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and said that Pakistan is following a policy of promoting brotherhood among the member countries of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Nawaz reiterated that the people of Pakistan would always stand with the people of Saudi Arabia against any threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the kingdom.
“King Salman acknowledged and appreciated the sincere sentiments of the Pakistani people and the leadership,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said.
While underscoring the need to further strengthen relations in defence, security, economical and commercial areas, the two sides discussed regional and global issues of common concerns, and agreed to defeat terrorism and extremism, added the statement.
“As is well known, the people of Pakistan hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in high esteem and have deep respect for the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques. Both people are bonded through historical, cultural and Islamic ties of brotherhood,” said the statement.
It added that King Salman also appreciated the initiative of the Pakistani leadership and observed that Saudi Arabia has always strived to promote brotherhood amongst Muslim countries.
Army chief Gen Raheel, National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi accompanied the premier, while the Saudi King was assisted by his cabinet members.
Meanwhile, Gen Raheel met Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince and defence minister, Mohammed bin Salman.
“After arriving in Riyadh, the army chief met the Saudi defence minister,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement.
During the meeting, Gen Raheel highlighted Pakistan’s perspective on the Middle East situation.
“Due to the situation in Middle East, the Muslim Ummah is weakening,” sources said, quoting the army chief.
The COAS stressed the need for opening up the communication channel between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the sources added.
Earlier during the day, PM Nawaz and Gen Raheel departed for Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to defuse tensions between the two regional countries.
Tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have been running high since the January 2 execution of leading Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr and the subsequent attacks on Saudi Embassy and consulate in Iran. Saudi Arabia and some of its allies have cut off ties with Iran, triggering a diplomatic crisis in the region.
Earlier, a senior Pakistani official revealed that in one of the recent high-level meetings, the civil and military leadership was informed that Pakistan could become a battleground for a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran if their relations continued to deteriorate.
Hence, fear of sectarian polarisation and proxy war between the two countries in Pakistan compelled Islamabad to mount a diplomatic push to mediate between the two key Muslim countries.
The visit is being described as a wise step in the best interest of the Muslim Ummah and leading politicians and analysts have hailed the premier’s visit to the Kingdom and Iran.
Nawaz Sharif will also visit Iran on Tuesday (today) and have a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in which he is expected to urge the Iranian leadership to settle the row with Riyadh amicably through diplomatic channels.
After the conclusion of the visit to Iran, the prime minister will visit Zurich, Switzerland to represent Pakistan at the World Economic Forum at Davos.