The bonhomie between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has turned heads in India. With Imran Khan taking the reins of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has been bowled over. Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi met with the Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud in Riyadh and discussed bilateral relations. A EurAsian Times analysis.
King Salman said relations between the two brotherly countries were excellent at all levels. Meanwhile, Pakistan has received the second half of the financial aid of $1 billion Saudi aid. The Kingdom had pledged to help Pakistan overcome the financial crisis.
Islamabad has traditionally enjoyed close cultural and religious ties with Riyadh and received immense diplomatic and economic support from the Kingdom. India has a relationship based on mutual interests. Ties between New Delhi and the oil-rich Gulf countries have been expanding on economic interests, infrastructure development, military and counter-terrorism cooperation.
Experts describe India and Saudi relations as economic driven, and Pakistan and Saudi relations as strategic shared values and geopolitical interests.
Pakistan continues to eye India through its eagled-vision, with Kashmir being a major concern. And it hasn’t moved beyond that. Many nations, including Saudi Arabia, have preferred not to interfere in the Kashmir issue citing it as an ‘India’s internal problem’ and this hasn’t gone down well with Islamabad.
Pakistan’s insistence on a plebiscite and India’s contention that Kashmir is an integral part of India represent a wide chasm. India, on the other hand, has been playing its cards quite cleverly. It has held Pakistan at an arm’s length and broadened its reach to other countries, and tailored the foreign policy accordingly, as Islamabad looks on.
Close and Robust Relation with Pakistan
Saudi Arabia maintains a close and robust political, military, economic, security and cultural relations with Pakistan. As per Arab News, there are other levels to the relations including trade, governance, values, health, and education. “The two countries also work together extensively at the international level, within the framework of several bilateral, regional and global organizations including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).”
Moreover, ever since Pakistan joined the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), its bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia reached newer heights. The IMAFT was created by the Kingdom in 2015 to combat Daesh (IS) and other terror groups.
“With one of the largest armies in the world and the only declared nuclear power in the Muslim world, Pakistan has maintained a unique position and works closely with Saudi Arabia and the other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as the world at large.”
Saudi Arabia Looks Outside Traditional Partnership
Looking outside the traditional partnership, Saudi Arabia has found a ‘friend’ in India. Since, former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Riyadh in 2010, India and Saudi Arabia relations have been moving positively in terms of diplomacy and security engagement.
This was followed up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s ties with the Kingdom have grown significantly over the last two decades based on their burgeoning energy ties and the 2.8 million-strong Indian diaspora in Saudi Arabia. Since then there has been no looking back and ties between Saudi Arabia and India under the nationalistic PM – Narendra Modi have grown even stronger.
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