Saudi Arabia has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan in an attempt to reduce long-running tensions between the two nuclear neighbors.
In an interview with state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) aired Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said his country “can play a role in reducing tensions between Pakistan and India.”
The offer came amid United Arab Emirates-brokered “backdoor” diplomacy which in February led to an understanding between the two militaries to honor a 2003 cease-fire agreement at the disputed Kashmir border.
Although, the two countries have denied the occurrence of any back-channel diplomacy, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said last week in an interview with local broadcaster Samaa News that there are contacts between the two militaries to keep each other informed on developing situations, which is a “routine.”
In April, Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the US, confirmed that Abu Dhabi is mediating between New Delhi and Islamabad to help them reach a “healthy and functional” relationship.
Addressing a virtual session with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Otaiba said his country had a role behind the recent cease-fire at the Line of Control (LoC), the de-facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, which could get relations back to a “healthy level.”
Praising the cease-fire understanding, the Saudi foreign minister termed it an “excellent step in the right direction.”
Tensions between India and Pakistan have been running high after the Indian government revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, stripping the country’s only Muslim-majority state of its autonomy in August 2019. It was also split into two federally administered territories.
Simultaneously, it locked the region down, detained thousands of people, imposed movement restrictions and enforced a communications blackout.
Islamabad, in turn, suspended trade ties and downgraded diplomatic relations with New Delhi.
Flagging concern over a rising trend of Islamophobia and blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad in the West, Al-Saud called for a combined strategy to tackle these issues
“There must be a dialogue on how to address the escalating tone of disrespect [against] Islam, and the Muslim nations need to come together to address the issue,” he was quoted as saying.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, he went on to say, “should be used to address such issues of intolerance.”
Hailing Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan for continuously speaking out against Islamophobia and blasphemous acts, he said his country was closely working with Pakistan to address these issues.
Responding to a question about the ongoing Afghan peace dialogue, the foreign minister said the Kingdom is working closely with the international community to help the war- ravaged country find “security and stability.”
Pakistan, he observed, has a “very important” role to play vis-a-vis the peace talks, which aim to bring an end to a decades-long conflict in Afghanistan.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk