Pakistan has been urged to de-escalate tensions with India by some of Islamabad’s key allies amid worsening relations between India and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan PM Imran Khan has also been urged to tone down his verbal attacks on his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in which he equated him with Adolf Hitler.
Reports suggest that Islamabad has turned down the requests and made it clear that it would only engage with India after New Delhi was persuaded to meet certain conditions on Kashmir which included ending the curfew, releasing political prisoners and lifting the communication blockade.
When the deputy foreign minister of Saudi Arabia and the foreign minister of UAE travelled together to Islamabad on September 3, they came with a ‘message’ advising Pakistan to engage in backchannel diplomacy with India and de-escalate the situation.
Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Al-Nahyan met both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa during their daylong trip. They also held a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Both the Saudi and UAE diplomats reportedly were ready to play a mediator role in defusing tensions between Pakistan and India. One of the proposals on the table was to encourage both countries to hold backdoor talks with each other.
While the international interlocutors were willing to persuade India to ease some of the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir, they requested Pakstan PM Imran Khan to desist from targeting PM Modi. PM Khan has repeatedly targeted the Indian PM, questioning his links with Hindu extremist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and even equating him with Hitler.
Imran Khan is gearing up for a two-day trip to Saudi Arabia from September 19 and Kashmir crisis is believed to be top on agenda. Khan’s visit is seen as significant against the backdrop of the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and India. Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS) has spoken with PM Imran several times on the phone since August 5 and given his proximity to both Khan and Modi, Riyadh could play a key role in mediating between two nuclear-armed neighbours.
With Inputs From Express Tribune