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PM’s upcoming visit to defuse Saudi-Iran standoff hailed

ISLAMABAD, Jan 17 (DNA): A number of leading former diplomats and analysts have termed the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia and Iran on Monday aimed at defusing the prevailing tension between the Muslim countries as the ‘bold initiative’ considering the unity and solidarity of the Muslim Ummah and the whole region. They were of the opinion that Pakistan was being looked upon as the major Muslim country among the Muslim world with wider influence over the international and regional affairs.

It has taken much required step to reach out to the leadership of the two important Muslim countries and sort out their differences through dialogue and restraint, they added.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will lead a high level delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran on Jan 18-19 to exchange views on regional and international issues.

“Pakistan is deeply concerned at the recent escalation of tensions between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Prime Minister has called for resolution of differences through peaceful means, in the larger interest of Muslim unity, particularly during these challenging times,” a press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday said.

It said that Pakistan had consistently advocated the policy of promoting brotherhood among member states of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

As well known, Pakistan enjoyed cordial and brotherly relations with both the countries, which were characterized by strong bonds of affinity, mutual respect and solidarity, and drew strength from shared historical, cultural and Islamic values, it added.

Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif will accompany the prime minister during the visit to both the Islamic countries. The visit comes days after Saudi Foreign and Defence Minister visited Islamabad.

The whole nation and the Ummah have been praying for the success of such diplomacy, they said, expressing optimistic that such prudent step would be a harbinger of normalcy in the bilateral ties between the both countries.

Fauzia Nasreen, a former ambassador and diplomatic analyst, viewed the Prime Minister’s initiative as the positive one to diffuse the mounting tensions in the region, beset with already volatile situation of Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

She said that Pakistan’s timely step would go a long way in easing the tensions between both countries, adding that in the wider perspective, Pakistan might also involve other regional countries in the future to achieve the objectives of stability in the entire region.

She noted that Prime Minister’s visit also coincided with a visit by the Chinese President to Iran and together they could exercise greater influence to remove an atmosphere of tension looming over the region.

Rasool Bux Raees, a diplomatic expert and analyst, opined that Pakistan’s involvement on the broader perspective of the Arab Peninsula currently undergoing tensions and unrest would yield positive results.

Bringing about rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia would save the Muslim world from further reeling back into chaos and turmoil and contain the threats of terrorism being witnessed in certain countries of the region, he told.

Raees said that it would be helpful in removing the differences among the Muslim countries.

Lt. Gen. (retd) Talat Masood said that Pakistan took a right and correct position by assuming the role of reconciliator aimed at forging unity among the Muslim countries and removing the differences which could further create fissures among the Muslim Ummah.

“The timely step by the Prime Minister will bring about greater harmony and help in reducing the tensions. The unifying role by Pakistan is laudable considering the regional perspective,” he added.

Brig. (retd) Mahmood Shah, a security and defence analyst, said that it was expected that Pakistan could play a key role in bringing about normalcy in the ties between the two countries.

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