Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said Pakistan will do its utmost to enable talks and avoid conflict between arch regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Addressing a joint news conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, PM Imran said certain vested interests were pushing for yet another war in a region that has suffered immensely due to previous and ongoing conflicts.
“Pakistan does not want conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia … I am happy to facilitate talks between Tehran and Riyadh … I am very hopeful as I had constructive talks with the (Iranian) president,” he said, adding that he will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
The premier reiterated that the reason for his trip to Iran and Saudi Arabia was to defuse rising tensions in the Middle East. “Pakistan will act as a facilitator, not as a mediator to help reduce tensions – now and in the future,” he said.
The premier, while recognising that the issues between the Iran and Saudi Arabia are “complex”, emphasised that Pakistan will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to avert large-scale conflict between the two Muslim countries.
“Mr President, the main reason I came over with my delegation is that we don’t want conflict in this region. Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties in the War on Terror. Iran is still suffering and I don’t want more people to suffer in this part of the world.
“We have Iran as our neighbour and our ties with Iran go way back. Saudi Arabia is one of our closest friends – it has helped us in our times of need,” said PM Imran.
He warned that any such conflict would have disastrous effects on the stability and security of the region and the world at large.
“What shouldn’t happen is war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It will cause poverty in the world, oil prices will go up, countries that are spending money on human beings will be spending money on buying oil. This is not just Pakistan’s point of view, but the point of view of all developing countries,” he said.
The premier also said he will visit Saudi Arabia on Tuesday “with a positive state of mind” to emphasise the importance of dialogue, stressing that these efforts for peace were purely a Pakistani initiative.