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Pakistan will look to allay Tehran’s fears regarding its participation in the Saudi military alliance headed by the celebrated General Raheel Sharif.

COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa is likely to visit Tehran to discuss the matter with the Iranian leadership. The army chief, besides addressing Iranian concerns regarding the alliance, would reiterate Pakistan’s desire to act as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism.”
– Donald Trump

This comes at a time when the 39-country military alliance, known as the IMAFT was said to have been given support and direction in the recently concluded Riyadh Summit. In his speech, President Trump castigated Iran and singled it out as the biggest perpetrator, financier, and abettor of terrorism.

Read more: US-Saudi arms deal: Is this setting the stage for a Saudi-Iranian war?

“But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three — safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran,” he said.

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” he added.

In the process, Trump pinpointed the enemy and what this consortium of countries must do.

“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve,” he stressed.

Pakistan’s participation in IMAFT and effects on Pak-Iran ties

Iran and Pakistan are witnessing some tiffs between them off-late. Border skirmishes have followed by threats from the Iranian military.

It would not be wrong to fathom that the IMAFT is heavily against Iran, and Saudi Arabia will play a lead role in the surge against it. This puts Pakistan in a precarious situation, since not only is it a part of the alliance but also its decorated war hero, General Raheel Sharif, is commanding it.

Read more: Rising tensions between the neighbors; Pakistan offers diplomacy to Iran

Iran and Pakistan are witnessing some tiffs between them off-late. Border skirmishes have followed by threats from the Iranian military. However, it is Pakistan’s participation in the alliance which is causing trouble between the two countries.

Iran has expressed its reservations about Pakistan joining the alliance, but Pakistan has time and again tried to assuage its fears. It was reported that General Raheel accepted the offer to command the alliance on the condition that he would act as a mediator between the two bastions of Islamic power. Much to the relief of Iran and rightly so, Pakistan did not become a party to the war in Yemen which is sectarian in nature. Though in a letter to General Raheel, the Iranian consulate showed confidence in the general’s ability to mediate between warring groups in Yemen.

Pakistan, it must be stressed is not in a position to takes sides in the ever-simmering ties between the GCC countries and Iran.

Pakistan made further concessions to Iran by backing away from its diplomatic support to the Syrian rebel. Besides, Pakistan has so far refrained from decrying Iran regarding its role inside Pakistan. The response to a threat given by the Iranian army was mature and cool-headed from Islamabad. In a statement, the Foreign Office Spokesman said, “such remarks were against the spirit of brotherly relations existing between the two countries.”

The Iranian envoy Mehdi Honardoost said that terror outfits cannot dictate our ties. “My brother! Have trust that every single thing is being pondered over on both sides. Have faith that no individual or any terrorist group can define ties between the two countries.” He said in an interview regarding Pak-Iran border spats.

Pakistan, it must be stressed is not in a position to takes sides in the ever-simmering ties between the GCC countries and Iran. Efforts are well underway to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran on part of Pakistan.

Read more: Rising Iranian-Pakistani tensions: Is Pakistan’s “house of cards” going to collapse?

Last month, The Speaker of the National Assembly, Ayaz Sadiq encouraged Iran to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, emphasizing, it would open up new possibilities and closer ties between both states. “Iran’s cooperation in fighting terrorism is essential and the role of mutual cooperation in establishing peace and security in the region is undeniable,” said the Speaker while meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran.

Pakistan, with a propensity for sectarianism, cannot afford to do anything other than assiduous diplomacy. The first thing is to convince Iran that Pakistan will not fight a sectarian war on behalf of the alliance, something which looks a difficult proposition.

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