Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif is embarking on a visit to neighbouring Iran on Monday on the second leg of his regional tour as part of Islamabad’s diplomatic initiative to offset the possible negative fallout of US President Donald Trump’s new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakria said during the daylong trip, the Foreign Minister would call on Iranian President Hassan Rohani and hold formal talks with his counterpart Javad Zarif.
The visit is part of Pakistan’s efforts to reach out to key regional countries against the backdrop of Trump’s new plan for Afghanistan and South Asia.
Iran was among the countries that denounced Trump’s threatening statement against Pakistan. Islamabad and Tehran appear to be on the same page on Afghanistan.
Pakistan is hopeful of a positive outcome of the ministers visit since the months-old strained ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia are on the mend.
The deteriorating ties had complicated Pakistan’s efforts to bring regional countries on board.
The foreign minister visited China last Friday and managed to win crucial support from Beijing, which urged the world to recognise Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.
China also threw its weight behind Pakistan’s stance that solution to the 16-year-long conflict in Afghanistan is not possible through the use of force. Both countries have called for pursuing the political option for achieving peace in the war-ravaged country.
In his policy speech on August 21, Trump announced troop surge to break the stalemate in Afghanistan. He at the same time hit out at Pakistan for what he called supporting “agents of chaos, violence and terrorism”.
In a damage control exercise, US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale insisted that Trump did not blame Islamabad for the failure in Afghanistan. The US envoy claimed that Pakistan still had a central role to play in achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan.