Saudi-Iran rift weakening Muslim ummah: Army chief

Published: January 18, 2016
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army chief General Raheel Sharif in a meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on January 18, 2016. PHOTO: PM OFFICE

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army chief General Raheel Sharif in a meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on January 18, 2016. PHOTO: PM OFFICE

ISLAMABAD: Army chief General Raheel Sharif met Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince and defence minister, Mohammed bin Salman, upon arrival in Riyadh on Monday.

“After arriving in Riyadh, the army chief met the Saudi defence minister,” the Inter Services Public Relations said in a statement.

During the meeting, General Raheel highlighted Pakistan’s perspective on the Middle East situation.

“Due to the situation in Middle East, the Muslim Ummah is weakening,” sources said, quoting the army chief.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, COAS General Raheel Sharif, SAPM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi hold consultative meetings onboard the plane enroute to Riyadh, KSA on January 18, 2016. PHOTO: PM OFFICE

The COAS stressed the need for opening up the communication channel between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the sources added.

Saudi-Iran rift: Fear of sectarian fallout prompted mediation, say officials

Meanwhile, the prime minister discussed the Saudi-Iran controversy in his meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh, Radio Pakistan reported.

The “prime minister reiterated the people of Pakistan would always stand with the people of Saudi Arabia against any threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the kingdom.”

“King Salman acknowledged and appreciated the sincere sentiments of the Pakistani people and the leadership,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets Saudi King Salman in Riyadh on January 18, 2016. PHOTO: PID

While underscoring the need to further strengthen relations in defence, security, economical and commercial areas, the two sides discussed regional and global issues of common concerns, and agreed to defeat terrorism and extremism, added the statement.

Statement available with The Express Tribune

The army chief, National Security Adviser Nasir Khan Janjua and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi accompanied the premier while the Saudi King was assisted by his cabinet members.

Earlier during the day, General Raheel along with the PM departed for Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to defuse tensions between the two regional countries.

“The prime minister wants to defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a peaceful manner,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office said, regarding the premier’s visit.

“Pakistan has deep rooted, brotherly relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and is concerned over ongoing tension between the two Muslim countries,” it added.

PM Nawaz, army chief head to Saudi, Iran to mend rift

Tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have been running high since the January 2 execution of leading Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr and the subsequent attacks on Saudi Embassy and consulate in Iran. Saudi Arabia and some of its allies have cut off ties with Iran, triggering a diplomatic crisis in the region.

Earlier, a senior Pakistani official unveiled that in one of the recent high-level meetings, the civil and military leadership was informed that Pakistan could become a battleground for a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran if their relations continued to deteriorate.

Hence, fear of sectarian polarisation and proxy war between the two countries in Pakistan compelled Islamabad to mount a diplomatic push to mediate between the two key Muslim countries.

Saudi-Iran tensions: Aziz fails to clear up ‘ambiguity’ in stance

The visit is being described as a wise step in the best interest of the Muslim Ummah and leading politicians and analysts have hailed the premier’s visit to the Kingdom and Iran.

The premier is also scheduled to travel to Zurich on January 19 to attend the World Economic Forum at Davos.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • jonaid
    Jan 18, 2016 - 11:46AM

    Premier is just as an Observer with the delegation. All will be done by COAS.Recommend

  • roadkashehzada
    Jan 18, 2016 - 4:41PM

    may be in KSA COAS will be main person considering long relations of army and saudi arabia, but iranians usually talk to legitimate rulerRecommend

  • Hameed
    Jan 18, 2016 - 4:55PM

    Now PM is not allowed to go on foreign tours alone any more. Recommend

  • Malikpur Janderbari
    Jan 18, 2016 - 5:59PM

    @ Jonaid. shame on you for such thinking on public forum….you must understand COAS is appointed by PM and he is only grade22 officer …..shame on such people who do not respect their country.Recommend

  • Malikpur Janderbari
    Jan 18, 2016 - 6:00PM

    Makes me proud! Pakistan takes the center stage for the unity of Ummah.

    No matter how many problems Pakistan has but when the time arise to help and assist other Muslim nations Pakistani’s forget there own problems and Alhumdulillah are ready to do all they canto help.

    Pakistani living abroad must propagate this new FACE of Pakistan we can lead the umma… proud of our country and our leadership!Recommend

  • Hameed
    Jan 18, 2016 - 6:18PM

    Who is the fat guy sitting next to PM? he seems like a big shot.Recommend

  • Ali
    Jan 18, 2016 - 6:35PM

    @jonaid: Are you sure about that – I can see otherwise in the picture aboveRecommend

  • Jamil
    Jan 18, 2016 - 6:37PM

    Very good to see both together – I hope the opportunists in Pakistani politics will not be happy. Recommend

  • Randhawa
    Jan 18, 2016 - 6:42PM

    Well Done both Sharifs, you are doing good job togetherRecommend

  • BilalAhmed
    Jan 18, 2016 - 7:13PM

    Actually the matter of fact is that both the Saudi Arabia and Iran were looking for Arbitrator both don,t want and cannot afford war, Pakistan was better option to bring them together as both studies & Iranian don’t like Turkey because it is their rival and looking for important role and power in middle east which is historically a field of proxy war between Iranian and saudies.
    After the sanction removal, Iran is expecting to play big role and will reemerge in region, she has already announce to sale more than 500 thousand barrel of oil per day, such move will bring oil price less than $25 per barrel, and Saudies are getting mad where more than 90% revenue come from Oil. European , American and Chinese companies are grievously waiting to exploit the more than 80 million consumers market which was previously closed to the world for decades, Iran is going to rise once again Recommend

  • Blithe
    Jan 18, 2016 - 8:05PM

    Who is saluting who? You are sicko who doesn’t understand the constitution Recommend

  • Wizarat
    Jan 18, 2016 - 8:13PM

    Wish Pakistan well

    This is a good step where the Saudis need Pakistan’s help in sorting the kids poor choices.vis a vis Iran.Recommend

  • assad
    Jan 18, 2016 - 8:34PM

    Only if the arrogant Iranians and Saudis listen to reason! The problem with both these countries is that they think they are the leaders of the Muslim world, why? I have no idea but this is the mentality that we are dealing with.

    Great effort by the GoP led by NS and supported by his NSC team, and I say this as a fan of Musharraf!Recommend

  • Sher
    Jan 18, 2016 - 8:58PM

    @Hameed: He is a super bureaucrat (Fawad Hasan). If you have seen the turkish drama (about sultan suleman). His post in reference is “muqarrib-i-khas”Recommend

  • Blithe
    Jan 19, 2016 - 12:55AM

    The difference between Nawaz and Raheem in this picture . Nawaz is talking while Raheel is posing for the photo – the most media savvy general in Pakistan’s history Recommend

  • NSJ
    Jan 19, 2016 - 7:04AM

    I think he is Tariq Fatemi. Adviser to PM in all matters.Recommend

  • Iqbal Hadi Zaidi
    Jan 19, 2016 - 7:36AM

    0533 now in Saudi Arabia and at least I do not know where is our PM at this point if time-in Riyadh / Tehran or even Islamabad for that matter? As per official communique issued by PM House, Islamabad before his departure PM Mian Nawaz Sharif was embarking upon one day trip to Saudi Arabia and Iran in an attempt to defuse the tension between the two brother Muslim countries. The trip is of the greatest importance which is being very closely watched by many countries around the globe including the US President Obama so this particular trip of PM cant be taken so casually as someone may think it alike. What I know for sure is that I have seen PM yesterday (18th instant) meeting Saudi King but then what happened after meeting the king, at least I am blank if not you. Any idea, even vague, as to from where PM shall fly today to Tehran to meet Iran leaders and for how long he will be with them for the same noble cause? Who enlightens me? Iqbal Hadi Zaidi/Kuwait/ / Cell 00965-66229897Recommend

  • Confused
    Jan 19, 2016 - 8:42AM

    The official statement issued from PM House before departure indicates a different line about this visit. Mediation part has been downgraded. You see the problem with Nawaz Sharif has been his priorities. His steel mill in SA and his other personal obligations to the Kingdom are likely to distract his attention from the main purpose of this unscheduled trip.Recommend

  • Gurion
    Jan 19, 2016 - 12:42PM

    Apart from publicity for domestic consumption in Pakistan, what respect does Pakistan command from either the Saudis or Persians?!Recommend

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