Pakistan has had long-standing relationships with Saudi Arabia and Iran, two key regional players that have been at loggerheads with each other. Pakistan has historically close ties with Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has frequently helped Pakistan wither difficult economic hardships, has invested in Pakistan’s economy and is home to millions of Pakistani expatriates who rely on the Saudi economy for employment. Iran is a neighbour with which Pakistan has deep cultural and civilizational linkages. Balancing between Saudi Arabia and Iran has been a delicate diplomatic task. The Saudi-Iranian enmity has often played out in other countries in the form of proxy wars, vestiges of which can be observed in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. However, recent developments have created the potential for improved Saudi-Iranian relations. In March 2023, under the auspices of the Chinese, Iran and Saudi Arabia held a bilateral meeting in Beijing. Both countries agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties, reopen their embassies and abstain from interfering in each other’s domestic affairs. This has significant implications for Pakistan, creating a plethora of opportunities for policymakers in Islamabad. Improved Saudi-Iranian ties will reduce political tensions in the Middle East. This would be the first step in ending the conflicts in Yemen and Syria and concluding the Shia-Sunni rivalry in the region. Pakistan has seen the Sunni-Shia proxy war play out domestically, with terrible societal consequences, and a cessation of this struggle would greatly reduce religious and sectarian tensions in the country. A more stable security environment is something the country desperately needs. Peace with Iran would lead to the cessation of military operations in Yemen, resulting in a subsequent reduction in military expenditure. Enhanced Saudi-Iranian ties would have substantial economic benefits for Pakistan. The Saudi state is in the middle of major economic reforms and is preparing itself for a post-oil future. Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen cost the Saudis around $340 Billion. Peace with Iran would lead to the cessation of military operations in Yemen, resulting in a subsequent reduction in military expenditure. This would free up more capital for economic investment and infrastructure development. Houthi militants targeting Saudi oil facilities would cease their operations, assuaging fears about petroleum facilities being taken out. Inevitably, reduced tensions and a greater focus on economic affairs would culminate in greater investment in the region, creating new opportunities for Pakistan. The interim government has announced that Prince Mohammad would be visiting Islamabad soon, with the intention of signing investment deals worth $25 Billion. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are major oil producers and reconciliation could end Iran’s diplomatic isolation. Reintegrating Iran into the global economy would require American acquiescence but if achieved, would be instrumental in reshaping global energy markets by bringing Iranian oil and natural gas back into markets. The net effect would be an increase in oil production and lower oil and gas prices. This would be particularly beneficial for Pakistan, which relies on oil imports to meet its energy needs. The Iran-Pakistan Natural Gas pipeline could be completed and would provide cheap energy to meet the country’s requirements. Re -integrating Iran into the global economy would result in greater trade between Pakistan and Iran. Iran could also join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, further boosting connectivity in the region. The strategic nature of this endeavour would ensure that South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East are linked together, promoting trade and economic growth. Contrary to popular belief, Gwadar and Chahbahar could serve as complementary economic hubs, instead of competing ports. With time, these ports and the attached manufacturing zones could attract investment from oil-rich Middle East states, creating mutually beneficial economic partnerships. This, of course, would require a substantial shift in the relationship between Iran and Gulf states. A Saudi-IranianSaudi-Iranian rapprochement would eliminate any pressure on Pakistan to pick Saudi Arabia’s side at the expense of ties with Iran. This creates the opportunity for Iran and Pakistan to resume their security cooperation that ended after the Iranian revolution. Iran and Pakistan could collaborate to curb the activities of Baluch militants in their respective provinces. Peace and stability in Baluchistan would allow Pakistan to explore the province’s mineral resources and proceed with development projects that have stalled due to attacks by insurgents. Although Pakistan would benefit from improved Saudi-IranianSaudi-Iranian ties, there are several challenges that lie ahead. Saudi Arabia and Iran have been patronising different proxies in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and do not see eye to eye on a number of issues. The Iranian Nuclear and Missile programs are a source of contention and as long as the Iranians continue their enrichment program, the Saudis and Emiratis will remain apprehensive about Iranian designs in the region. Even if there is a peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, there is no guarantee that Iran’s relationship with the United States and Israel will improve. As stated before, Iranian reintegration into the global economy would hinge on American approval. Additionally, it would take years of confidence-building measures before the Saudis and Iranians engage in any major economic projects. A conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran would be disastrous for the region. Pakistan has historically played a mediating role between both countries. There are several steps the government can take to improve the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan could offer to act as a neutral arbitrator and engage in diplomatic efforts to promote dialogue. This would involve hosting negotiations between Saudi and Iranian officials, as well as providing a neutral forum for conferences involving multiple regional players such as China, Egypt and Turkey. A diplomatic triumph will create a more stable security environment but would depend on addressing Saudi concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and Iranian support for proxy militia groups. In return, the Iranian government’s fears about foreign-sponsored regime change could lessened. The Organisation of Islamic Countries could be used as a forum to reduce hostilities between the two parties, and a diplomatic committee could be established to oversee efforts to mitigate the Sunni-Shia divide and end proxy conflict in the Muslim world. Iran and Saudi Arabia could also be encouraged to increase trade and economic cooperation. In conclusion, improved Saudi-Iranian ties could have significant benefits for Pakistan. However, there are substantial challenges that need to be addressed in order to stabilise the Saudi-Iranian relationship. Policymakers in Islamabad need to be proactive and play a mediating role. Pakistan will need to carefully manage its relationships with both countries and work to address the underlying issues that have contributed to tensions. By doing so, Pakistan can help to create a more stable and prosperous region, while also protecting its own interests and security. The writer is a freelance columnist.