Middle East is going through a phase of socio-political transition which is violent and peaceful, desired and undesired, internally-bred and externally-imposed. Along with Saudi Arabia and Iran as protagonists; UAE and Egypt are also major actors of the said phase. Following President Trump’s visit to the Saudi Kingdom, the latter has effectively rallied support of Arab countries to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar – a country being punished for its regional neutrality. This diplomatic crisis has its own regional repercussions which shall be discussed separately. Here, the concern is how this latest Saudi move has created another hard choice for Pakistan to make.
Being a close ally of Saudi Arabia, where Pakistan was already finding it hard to strike a balance between the Kingdom and Iran there, once again it has been put into a conundrum over the Qatar issue. But, Pakistan seems to possess a different ideology now after being severely battered by years of extremism and sectarianism. Pakistan surely wants to be in good terms with the Saudi Kings but it also does not want to make itself controversial in the Middle East. To answer the problem Pakistan - under the pretext of this Saudi-led Qatar Diplomatic Crises - needs to:
· Clearly devise its (Middle Eastern) foreign policy which should preferably be based on neutrality but without immensely annoying the Saudi Kingdom
· Step in as mediator not only between Iran and Saudi Arabia but also between Qatar and the Arab Countries
· Engage with the Middle Eastern nations in trade using the routes of CPEC
With these steps taken, Pakistan can clarify its position but, with uncertain diplomatic and international costs that it might be forced to pay.