Alwaght- Only two days after his October 15 visit to Iran and meeting with the Iranian officials, the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Saudi Arabia. During his visit, he talked to the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son and heir to the throne Prince Mohammed. The core point of the Pakistani PM’s trip was a role to play to deescalate the tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. And of course the results of the efforts are seriously important to throw light on.
Imran Khan’s difficult mission and positive results of de-escalation effort
In the discussion of the visit, certainly what deserves a focus is the degree of his success in easing the tensions between the two regional rivals. Imam Khan first visited Tehran and then flew to Riyadh hoping to devise a formula to bring the two sides to the negotiating table, something that would honor him with the title of the champion of a regional mediation case.
His Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reported on the trip, signaling that the PM achieved positive results towards relaxation of the situation between the two countries that are locked in a burgeoning regional competition.
“Saudi Arabia responded positively to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative to reduce the tensions in the Persian Gulf region,” Qureshi said, adding: “The Saudi leaders had a positive response. There was an agreement on the preference of diplomacy and that the differences should be solved through dialogue. We had a good start.”
Dawn newspaper of Pakistan reported that in his visit to the Arab Kingdom, Imran Khan called on the Arab country’s leaders to settle the regional disputes through negotiations.
Media reports also talk about his special efforts to put an end to the Yemen war, waged against the already-impoverished country by Saudi Arabia in March 2015. During the talks with the Saudi rulers, he sought a clear outlook for the Yemeni group’s ceasefire with Saudi Arabia. The creation of an atmosphere of the end of the Yemen war and engaging Saudi Arabia and Iran in a kind of regional cooperation mechanism took a center stage in his diplomatic efforts.
Riyadh show of a serious will for a solution for the five-year-old Yemen crisis after a failure to defeat the Ansarullah movement in Yemen and Yemen’s halt of retaliatory missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia now give room for Imran Khan to mediate for ease of tensions. Riyadh’s request to talk to Iran and Tehran’s green light for a rapprochement express that Imran Khan has managed to remove the heavy clouds of tensions affecting the two important regional powers’ relations in the initial step of his mission.
Asking Riyadh to rethink withdrawing investments from Pakistan
The PM’s trip to the wealthy Arab kingdom was also driven by economic objectives. Beside his main goal, the side goal was getting bin Salman to continue his investments in the Pakistani economy which desperately needs foreign finances amid a hard situation.
In February, Prince Mohammed toured Asia countries including Pakistan to mend his image and bring back the international community’s lost trust in Saudi Arabia following the murder of the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his country’s consulate in Istanbul by a hit squad reportedly sent by the de facto ruler. He promised billions in investment to develop Pakistan’s energy sector and infrastructures. According to the promise, Baluchistan province will be the gate of the Saudi cash flow meant for investment in Pakistan. But evidently, the prince has not so far taken any step towers realization of his pledge.
Reports even say that the Saudis have officially withdrawn their investment commitment. So, PM Imran Khan’s secondary aim was to persuade the Saudi prince to fulfill his commitments in Baluchistan.
In late September, he visited Riyadh for the same economic aim. While the Saudis are largely in need of mediation between them and Iran, Islamabad can wrest from them big economic privileges. If he manages to positively get bin Salman to his Iran-related goals, Imran Khan will very likely secure huge economic advantages from the Saudi prince.