Middle East

Saudi-Iran rapprochement and Pakistan

The Saudi-Iran peace deal can be seen as a step towards peace and harmony but also a game changer or a new chapter that not only will achieve peace in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East but also an opportunity for Pakistan.

On Friday, 10 March 2023 Iran-Saudi announced the restoration of their relations and diplomatic ties, reaching an agreement arranged by the Chinese government in Beijing. The restoration and enhancement relation was announced in a statement that mentioned that the reopening of embassies within two months along with bilateral cooperation in different fields will be achieved between the two states.

In agreement, Saudi Arabia and Iran show an optimistic approach to restart the security cooperation agreement which was signed in 2001. The agreement is signed between Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban and Iran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani.

Pakistan said it cordially welcome the stabilization of the diplomatic relationship between Tehran and Riyadh. Pakistan believes that this major diplomatic development will enhance peace and stability in the region.

In previous years, Pakistan made efforts to play the role of mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia to bring both states to the table, 2016 at the time Nawaz Sharif. In 2019 PM Imran Khan’s visited Saudi Arabia and Iran and act as a mediator between both states. However, at that time no development was witnessed with regard to the improvement of relations between both states but this reconciliation positively impacted Saudi-Iran to restore relations.

The restoration of Saudi-Iran relations is a major opportunity for Pakistan to trade and foster energy connections to give a -boost to its dwindling economy. Neighbor Iran is always a key ally of Pakistan in trade and Saudi is a major economic partner, as many Pakistani people are working in Saudi Arabia. Pakistan has friendly relations with both states along with ups and downs in the relation.

Reducing Saudi-Iran tensions can be an opportunity for Pakistan to align the Muslim world for Kashmir cause. Closer ties between China, Iran, and Pakistan would be crucial for the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the larger Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and for improving regional security. Also, the normalization of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia could have a positive impact on Pakistan, as it may help to resolve religious stiffness. 

Pakistan’s Shia population is estimated to be between 20% and 25% of the total population. Because of religious and civilizational affiliation with Tehran and Riyadh, Pakistan can engage with both countries and promoting dialogue and cooperation, Pakistan can help reduce tensions in the region and promote stability and peace.

To continue this role, Pakistan will need to maintain a balanced approach that takes into account the interests and concerns of all parties involved. It will need to engage in dialogue with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Overall, Pakistan’s role in promoting stability and peace in the Middle East is an important one, and its efforts to maintain a balanced approach and engage with all parties involved will be key to achieving this goal. By doing so, Pakistan can contribute to a more stable and prosperous region, while also enhancing its position as a regional player.

Nazia Sheikh

Nazia Sheikh is a Research Officer at Centre for International Strategic Studies, AJK. Her research areas are Strategic Stability in South Asia, Strategic Dynamics of South Asia & Conflict Resolution between Pakistan & India.

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