(Persia Digest) – An expert of Pakistani affairs in Tehran commented on the ongoing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, saying: “Imran Khan is willing to help reduce existing tensions if possible; this will be one of the main topics to be discussed during his visit to Tehran.”

According to the spokesperson of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is to visit Tehran on 21 April 2019, along with ministers of foreign affairs, economy, environment and his special envoy. The visit will take place after he had earlier said during his election campaign that Iran will be the first destination of his foreign visits if he wins the elections. However, his initial visit was to Saudi Arabia once he took office as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Pir Muhammad Mullazehi, an expert of Pakistani affairs, has spoken to Persia Digest (PD) about Imran Khan’s upcoming visit and said: “Iran-Pakistan relations are formed based on their mutual ties, regional situation and the positions taken by each of them on the international scene. Presently, there are two major issues. One is related to border issues, activities of terrorist groups and illegal drug smuggling from joint borders.”

He added: “While Iran expects Pakistan to take serious steps to confront terrorist groups in the region, Islamabad believes that its borders with Iran are not Pakistan’s first priority; instead its main concerns are about its joint borders with Afghanistan and Kashmir.”

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The expert on the subcontinent added: “The second issue is related to present tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Imran Khan is willing to help reduce this, if possible, by playing a mediatory role. Therefore, this will be one of the main topics discussed during his visit to Tehran.”

As for the timing of Imran khan’s visit, Mullazehi said: “In Pakistan the Prime Minister is not in charge of deciding about foreign policy and it’s the army which decides on regional and international positions. Therefore, although during his election campaigns Imran Khan had said that he will travel to Tehran as the first destination of his foreign visits as the prime minister of Pakistan, he visited Saudi Arabia after his victory based on a decision made by the army. Today, after several visits to Riyadh, he is to visit Tehran because, according to Pakistani military men, this is the right time to do so.”

He added: “Pakistan’s army feels serious concerns about the influence of India in Afghanistan. On the other hand, it knows that New Delhi and Tehran enjoy massive cooperation in the Chabahar region; therefore, Pakistani military men hope to use the present situation in their own favor.”

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Mullazehi also commented on the US designation of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization as well as Pakistan’s position on the way it will work with IRGC’s border guards in eastern Iran.

“As the only Muslim nuclear state with a large army, Pakistan is not a mere obedient of US orders. Pakistani leaders consider the country’s interests in dealing with Iran and other regional states and are looking to balance their relations with China, Russia and Iran despite receiving multi-million-dollar financial and military aid from the US now that Islamabad is facing certain problems with Trump’s administration. Consequently, the recent US decision will by no means affect the way Pakistan cooperates with the IRGC border guards.”

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