Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Saturday made it clear that Pakistan will put its national and territorial interests first before deciding to play a role in the Saudi-Iran row.
“As of now, the issue seems sectarian in nature and we will protect our interests to make sure the row does not evolve into a sectarian conflict in our own country,” Aziz said while talking to media in Lahore alongside federal information minister Pervez Rashid.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are at a tense standoff following a prominent Shia cleric’s execution by the former on January 2.
“Pakistan is waiting for the right time to play the role of a mediator,” said the adviser.
While cautioning that terrorists can take advantage of the standoff between the two countries, Aziz said “Muslim world must also play its due role in diffusing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan said it will extend full support to the Saudi-led Islamic coalition if its sole purpose is to fight terrorism and is not against any specific country. The statement came following a meeting of Pakistani civil and military leadership with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister.
Pak-India talks still intact
Commenting on the fate of the scheduled talks between Pakistan and India following the terror attack on Indian Air Force base in Pathankot , Aziz said Pakistan is investigating the incident while a planned meeting for the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India was still in place.
Aziz said India has neither confirmed nor cancelled the talks, Radio Pakistan reported.
Foreign secretaries of the two countries would meet on January 15, he added.
Earlier on Thursday, India had warned of calling off the upcoming foreign secretary talks in the wake of the Pathankot air base attack.
Without giving any deadline, Vikas Swarup, the Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, said talks would be held only if Pakistan made good on its promise to “promptly and decisively” act on the evidence provided to Islamabad on the Pathankot attacker.