Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, arrived in Tehran yesterday on a three day tour in which the influential military chief will meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and discuss defence and security issues.
The trip is the first time in more than two decades that an army chief from the Sunni majority state and a close ally of Saudi Arabia has made an official visit to Iran.
His arrival was announced by military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor through a tweet. No formal statement was, however, issued revealing the sensitivity with which the two sides are dealing with the visit amidst escalation tensions in the region.
Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia intercepted missiles over the capital Riyadh launched by Houthi militants from warring Yemen. The Houthis are accused of being Iran’s proxy in the region. Today the Saudi Ministry of Interior issued a statement with a list of 40 wanted people, mainly Houthi militants, who have a total $430 million bounty placed on their heads. Saudi has accused the militants of being Houthi terrorists working with Iran.
While there are a number of major security issues to be discussed, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have further complicated relations between Tehran and Islamabad. Pakistan has reservations over the Islamic Republic’s involvement in disputes in the Arab world as well as its proximity to India; a major foe of the Pakistanis. Iran on the other hand suspiciously looks at Pakistan’s close ties with Arab monarchies and its main rival in the region, Saudi Arabia.