Pakistan's Potential Role vis-à-vis Arabian and Persian Flanks of the Gulf

Muhammad Shabbir
In the Gulf region, the contention between the two flanks; Arabian and Persian is a result of their diverse historical experiences and civilizational differences. The two flanks, led by Saudi Arabia and Iran, have close relationship with Pakistan that at the popular levelis viewed as the product of multiple factors: shared civilizational experience, faith system, common aspirations and interests, and therefore, hopes for a common destiny. All these factors converge to make a composite picture,
more » ... composite picture, therefore, tensions between the two flanks also impact Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan's erstwhile strong position vis-à-vis Gulf region to play a constructive role has been impaired due to changing regional dynamics and Pakistan's internal weaknesses. In this backdrop, the paper aims to study and identify Pakistan's role and potential to decrease intra-Gulf contentions or transform their conflict for mutual economic and strategic benefits. The study recapitulates the history of Pakistan-Gulf relations and intra-Gulf divergences. While discussing Iran and Saudi Arab as key players, the paper provides contours of this rivalry and deliberates the questions: how intra-Gulf rivalry impacts Pakistan? and, what role can Pakistan play to bring the two flanks of the Gulf together? The ISSRA Papers 2014 124 paper also carries some foreign policy recommendations for Pakistan. The study concludes that though Pakistan has the potential to play a constructive role in defusing intra-Gulf tensions, but it cannot succeed in this endeavor, unless its domestic situation is improved.