(Persia Digest) – Pir Mohammad Mulla Zehi, expert on Pakistani affairs in Tehran, believes: “Although Imran Khan chose Riyadh as his first foreign trip, his general outlook is to act as a mediator between Iran and Pakistan. The opportunity is still there for the new Prime Minister to make this happen.”
Following his election as Pakistani PM, Imran Khan announced that Tehran was his first foreign trip destination. Yet, he changed his mind a few weeks later and went to Riyadh instead. At the same time, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has said that his country is ready to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
What outlook will Pakistan have towards Iran and Saudi Arabia under Imran Khan?
Pir Mohammad Mulla Zehi, expert of Pakistani affairs in Tehran, told in an interview with Persia Digest: “In effect, Imran Khan is not the main decision-maker for Pakistan’s regional and international policies. It is the army who makes these decisions for Islamabad. As such, Imran Khan was expressing his own sentiments immediately after his election, and this was not in accordance with Pakistan’s strategies. When the army explained the situation to him, the Prime Minister rearranged the schedule for his first foreign trip.”
He continued: “The outcome of Imran Khan’s trip to Saudi Arabia was an accord over two issues – a USD 10BM investment by the Saudis in Pakistan, which is a significant sum in proportion to Islamabad’s economy, and the Saudi readiness to join China and Pakistan in the Silk Road project, which is linked to the Saudi-Iran rivalry. The Saudis are trying to provide a replacement route with the Silk Road in cooperation with Pakistan, to counter a naval road from Iran to Oman."
Mulla Zehi added: “Presently, Imran Khan is better coordinated with the army and it seems their views will be implemented. But, despite choosing Riyadh as his first foreign destination, his general outlook is to act as a mediator between Iran and Pakistan. The opportunity is still there for the new Prime Minister to make this happen. Pakistan is a nuclear country with a population of over 200 million and is able to make this happen among Islamic countries.”
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