Iranian FM Zarif due today

Iran’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif is arriving here on a two-day official visit on Tuesday (today) to discuss bilateral issues as well as key regional developments.

Zarif is leading a high-powered delegation, comprising senior political and economic officials, a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The Iranian foreign minister will meet Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He is expected to call on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

There are no further details available regarding the agenda of his visit but officials sources say the discussions would focus on bilateral issues and regional developments, including the Afghan peace process.

The visit of the Iranian foreign minister comes at an important juncture particularly against the backdrop of a host of developments.

The election of Joe Biden as the US president might bring new changes to the region as he wants to revive the Iranian nuclear deal, which President Trump scrapped after coming to power.

The revival of Iranian nuclear deal will help Pakistan pursue some of the economic projects, including Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline that was halted due to the threat of US economic sanctions.

The visit is also important against the backdrop of Pakistan’s apparent hiccup in ties with Saudi Arabia, which wanted Islamabad to maintain distance from countries such as Iran, Turkey and Malaysia.

Islamabad, however, is treading a careful path as these three countries have been publically supporting Pakistan on the issue of the longstanding Kashmir dispute with India.

On the contrary, Saudi Arabia and its other Arab allies maintained silence and avoided criticising the Modi government for its August 5, 2019 move.

Pakistan has long sought the conference of OIC foreign ministers to discuss Kashmir but Saudi Arabia is apparently reluctant to convene such a meeting.

The apparent hiccup between the two countries persists as Pakistan is planning to return the remaining $2 billion loan to Saudi Arabia.

With China investing heavily in Iran, observers believe that ties between Tehran and Islamabad might deepen further.

However, Pakistan wants to maintain a balance in its ties and has been telling Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies that its ties with Iran, Turkey and Malaysia do not aim at undermining Riyadh’s interests.

This article originally appeared on The Express Tribune