Pakistan is ready to play a constructive and positive role between Iran and Saudi Arabia, prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan told Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost on Saturday.
Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Iran, the predominant Shia power, have a long history of rivalry. They today stand on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East, from Syria to Yemen.
The Iranian envoy had called on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman at his Banigala residence to congratulate him on his party’s victory in the 2018 general elections, a press release issued by the party said.
Ambassador Honardoost also conveyed congratulatory wishes from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
Iran is ready to cooperate with Pakistan in regional development, and is also keen to expand trade with Pakistan, the envoy told Khan.
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”, the PTI statement said.
While observing that the situation in the region is highly sensitive, Honardoost said: “Iran will welcome Pakistan’s suggestions to ensure peace in the region.”
Imran Khan thanked the Iranian envoy for the wishes conveyed by his government, and reiterated Pakistan’s desire to trade with “all regional neighbours, including Iran”, said the press release.
‘‘Iran’s role in protecting its integrity is commendable,” the expected prime minister said.
Khan told the envoy he wished to visit Iran and see its historical sites one day.
PTI leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shireen Mazari, and Naeemul Haq were also present at the Banigala meeting.
The Iranian ambassador is one of many foreign dignitaries to have visited Khan in recent days. The envoys of Britain, China, Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates have all called on the PTI chairman since the election results arrived.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi also telephoned Imran Khan to congratulate him over his party’s victory, saying that India was “ready to enter a new era of relations with Pakistan,” according to a PTI statement.
US congresswoman phones Khan
Also on Saturday, United States Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee called Imran Khan and congratulated him over his party’s victory in the elections.
The conversation between the two was arranged through party leader Imran Ismail, a statement issued by PTI’s Central Media Department said.
Lee, who heads the Pakistani caucus in Congress, conveyed good wishes for the PTI government and ensured her support and cooperation for the new government.
She expressed the desire to visit Pakistan along with a delegation after the formation of the new government, the PTI statement said.
Khan thanked the Democratic congresswoman for her wishes and welcomed her plans to visit Pakistan.
Congresswoman Lee is considered one of the few voices in the US Congress still speaking up for Pakistan.