Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran today.
The meeting is interesting, as it occurs in the context of Pakistan’s recent warming of relations with Saudi Arabia—Iran’s regional rival.
In February, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman described himself as an ‘ambassador for Pakistan’ and promised investment worth some $20 billion for Islamabad. Meanwhile, Pakistani soldiers have been based in Saudi Arabia over recent years for training purposes.
Whilst Islamabad has not been explicit about the possible presence of Saudi troops in Pakistan, it also emphasised that Riyadh will not be permitted to launch attacks from Pakistan.
Upon Khan’s election last August, he offered to mediate issues between Iran and Pakistan. As Iran has been strengthening its relationship with India recently, Khan also has a strong disincentive against alienating Tehran.
Expect Khan attending the meeting in Iran along with a series of his ministers to slightly ease Iran’s concerns over being sidelined by a possible growing Pakistani-Saudi coalition. However, also expect Saudi Arabia’s financial generosity to win favour with Pakistan in the long-term.
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Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.