Three Pakistani high-level delegations are touring the Persian Gulf region. Two of them are most certainly substantive – President Asif Zardari’s visit to Kuwait and Interior Minister Rahman Malik’s to Riyadh – while the visit by Farooq Naek, the chairman of the Pakistani senate [upper house of parliament] to Iran seems more of a goodwill visit. Not that generating ‘goodwill’ with Iran at this juncture of great volatility in the Saudi-Iranian relationship or US-Iran standoff is any less than a suggestive balancing act by Pakistan.
From all appearance, Malik’s arrival in Riyadh out of the blue Saturday on an unscheduled visit catches the eye. Malik is no ordinary cabinet minister. He is a hatchet man of much importance and his responsibilities cover the range of security issues affecting/surrounding/engulfing/threatening Pakistan today. Second, the consultations took place after bin Laden’s killing. That Malik left home turf at all when the temperature is running so high within Pakistan underlines that there was something of extreme urgency and sensitivity to be discussed with the Saudi leadership at the highest level. He was deputed as special envoy so that he could talk straight with the Saudi king.