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Statement by Sartaj Aziz in the National Assembly on 5 January

Islamabad, January 05, 2016 (PPI-OT): On 03 January 2016, Saudi Arabia announced its decision to sever diplomatic relations with Iran by re-calling its Ambassador from Tehran and giving the Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the Kingdom. It was in the aftermath of attacks on Saudi Embassy in Tehran and Consulate in Meshed. The two missions were stormed by the demonstrators protesting against the execution of a Saudi national, Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, a Shia Muslim, on 02 January 2016.

A number of countries, mostly the Gulf States, have denounced the attacks on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Meshed. Bahrain and Sudan have also announced the decision to cut diplomatic relations with Iran while UAE downgraded its ties with Tehran. The attacks by the Irani protestors on the Saudi Missions in Tehran and Meshed have also been criticized by the US, France, China and EU. Most of the western countries have highlighted the danger of escalation in sectarian divide in the Muslim world and called for restraint and de-escalation of tension between the two countries.

Political rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been dominating the situation in the region for a long time, with many ups and downs. But this time, the crisis is more serious because of several geopolitical factors and the rising threat of extremism and terrorism.

The government of Pakistan, in a statement issued yesterday, has expressed concern at the recent escalation of tension between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The statement has highlighted that the attack on the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran, which is against the international norms is most unfortunate and deeply regrettable.

We believe that it is responsibility of the host States to provide full safety and security to all diplomatic missions and their personnel. The Government statement has further stressed that dark forces of extremism and terrorism can take advantage of any disunity in the Muslim Ummah. Pakistan has called for resolution of differences through peaceful means in the larger interest of Muslim unity in these challenging times.

We hope that the two countries will be able to normalize their relations sooner than later. Division within the OIC and among Muslim Ummah, when the situation in the Middle East remains volatile, does not bode well for regional peace and stability. Pakistan will continue to play an active and balanced role as an important member of OIC and a friend of both Saudi Arabia and Iran to bridge the divide.

The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia is also expected to visit Pakistan later this week. I will be able to make a more detailed statement on this subject in the coming days, preferably in an in-camera session due to the sensitivity of the subject.

For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: +92-51-9205494
Fax: +92-51-9204202
Cell: +92-336-5644459
Website: www.mofa.gov.pk

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