Zardari mediating between Saudi Arabia, Iran

Zardari started his efforts by first dispatching Interior Minister Rehman Malik to Tehran and Riyadh.

Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari may have overreached by pushing for his Middle East peace plan that has already hit a roadblock.

“Mr Zardari is keen to see stability in the region. And that is something which is in our national interest because we have multiple interests in Middle East,” Zardari’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said, while confirming that the president has been pursuing a peace initiative.

Notwithstanding the difficulties and complexities in repairing the Saudi-Iranian ties, Zardari is said to be keeping his hopes alive, but at the same time is realistic about the prospects for success.

“I must say there is optimism, there is every reason to be optimistic, but it is definitely a time consuming process … Let us hope,” said Babar, who accompanied Zardari on all three trips.

According to an official source, the formula that Zardari has been carrying with him during these trips is that Iran ends interference in Bahrain, Manama addresses the political grievances of the majority Shia community, and Riyadh and Tehran hold direct talks to sort out problems in their relations at the foreign ministerial level, the paper said.

Additionally, under the proposed plan, Iran is expected to help in stabilising Yemen and Syria, it added.

“We have been urging all sides to avoid violence and extreme measures, we have welcomed dialogue in Bahrain and we have also called for total non-interference,” the spokesman said.

Babar insisted that the initiative was out of concern for stability in the region, but diplomatic insiders say it was initiated on the West’s prodding.

The Western leaders, who were concerned about the growing instability in the region, pushed Islamabad to use its relations with Riyadh and Tehran for defusing the situation, the paper said.

Hoping to build a legacy as a peacemaker, Zardari started his efforts by first dispatching Interior Minister Rehman Malik to Tehran and Riyadh, it added.

Babar said that Pakistan’s reaching out was important in itself, and though Zardari may not have met immediate success, he is happy to have tried.


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