Pakistan is ready to play a constructive and positive role between Iran and Saudi Arabia, said the chairman of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party Imran Khan, who is scheduled to be named as the party’s candidate for the country’s next prime minister today.
He made the remarks in a Saturday meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost.
Tensions ran high between Tehran and Riyadh after Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in January 2016, and a subsequent attack by outraged Iranian protesters on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, which resulted in the Arab country’s decision to sever its ties with the Islamic Republic.
The controversial move was preceded by a deadly crush of Hajj pilgrims in September 2015, which killed more than 460 Iranians.
Imran Khan also said that Pakistan is interested in expanding trade ties with “all regional neighbors, including Iran.”
‘‘Iran’s role in protecting its integrity is commendable,” he said.
Khan also told the Iranian official he wished to visit Iran and see its historical sites one day.
Honardoost conveyed goodwill wishes from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to Imran Khan following his party’s victory in the country’s general elections last week.
“Tehran is ready to work with Islamabad in regional development and wants to foster trade with Pakistan,” the Iranian envoy told him.
He also expressed his country’s desire to negotiate with Pakistan on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, adding that the pipeline could “change the future of Pakistan.”
While noting that the regional situation is sensitive, the Iranian envoy said, “Iran welcomes Pakistan’s suggestions to guarantee peace in the region.”
“This will be the first government that will not carry out any political victimization,” Khan said on Thursday.
Media reports said on Sunday that Imran Khan will be named on Monday as the PTI’s candidate for the next prime minister of Pakistan and he is set to initially form a cabinet.
Dawn newspaper contributed to this story.