Dr Muhammad Khan
ISLAMIC Republic of Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia established their bilateral relationship soon Pakistan came into being in 1947. This beginning of relations between the two Muslim countries was based on solid foundation of Islamic ideology. Since Pakistan came into being, based on Islamic ideology and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was protecting, maintaining and indeed taking extreme care of two Holiest Places of Islam; the Holy Mosque (Kaaba Tullah) and Masjid al-Nabawi therefore a unanimity of religious norms and values further deepened this bilateral relationship. Indeed, Muslims of Sub-continent had deep religious affiliation with their holy places in the heart of Arab since centuries, thus, upon Pakistan becoming a reality, this relationship got further strengthened and diverse from people centric to state centric.
Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed a “Treaty of Friendship” in 1951. This treaty in fact laid the formal basis for the bilateral relationship between these two Muslim brothers. Apart from cooperation between the two, this Treaty of Friendship devised a mechanism for political, diplomatic, cultural, economic and religious relationship between KSA and Pakistan. Based on this, bilateral relations “were buttressed over the coming decades by a tradition of strong financial and strategic assistance extended to each other by the two brotherly countries whenever required.”
Since the Middle East has been in turmoil ever since WW-I, therefore, the role of Saudi Arabia has been very significant, unique and indeed bringing stability in the entire Arab world. From the establishment of the Kingdom in 1930 till to-date, there have been many challenges to the successive kings of this great Muslim Kingdom. King Abdul Aziz, ruled this great Muslim Monarch from 1930 to 1953. These years were very decisive for the Saudi Kingdom with respect to political and strategic changes, which were taking place at the global and regional horizon. It was the period of inter war (between WW-I and WW-II), followed by WW-II, the beginning of the cold war and decolonization of the Arab world from France and United Kingdom.
In all these years, the role of Kingdom has been crucial, significant and futuristic for maintaining a balance between newly independent states, their former colonial powers and the super powers of the world; the United States and the Soviet Union. Since King Abdul Aziz has founded the kingdom on sound basis, therefore, his six successors (his sons); followed the suit and brought the Kingdom to new heights. Indeed, it was during the era of King Abdul Aziz that, Pakistan-Saudi Arab relationship got strengthened with sound foundation. The pioneer King had in fact, the vision, the statesmanship and the future plan of action for further development of this relationship to new heights.
King Saud, though remained the King for a brief period, but tried to maintain a very good relationship with Pakistan. King Faisal, who took over kingdom in 1964, cemented the Pak-Saudi relationship on diverse grounds. He was a man with great foresight and vision for bringing the Muslim world together under a single banner of Muslim brotherhood. He brought a new era of modernization and economic growth for the Kingdom and entire Arab world. He was a strong advocate of Muslim unity. His relationship with Pakistan is considered to be one of the exemplary and exceptional. Whether it was Arab-Israel conflict, the 1973 Arab-Israel war or the oil crisis, he dealt all with lot of vision, courage and exceptional sagacity. His followers; King Khalid, maintained the same relationship with Pakistan and prudently dealt with the seizure Holy Mosque by a group of terrorists. He sought help of Pakistan Special forces, SSG for evicting these terrorists from Grand Mosque.
King Fahd, took over the Kingdom at a decisive stage in 1982, once there was Arab world was facing a new challenge; the Islamic revolution in Iran and Iran-Iraq war which lasted from 1980 to 1988. It was the most decisive period and the Kingdom played a very crucial role in the regional stability of the Arabian Gulf. Pakistan supported the Saudi role and provided all out assistance to the Kingdom at political, military and diplomatic level. Later, King Abdullah succeeded King Fahd in 2005. He instituted a number of mild reforms to modernize many of the country’s institutions and, to some extent, increased political participation. He too was a great advocate of Pak-Saudi relationship
Upon taking over the power in 2015, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz reiterated his relationship with Pakistan at all level; the political, strategic, economic, cultural and people to people. There have been major changes at political, military, economic and cultural level within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during these three years of King Salman. He brought youth leadership at the forefront with an element of moderation, education, pluralism and a corruption free environment. In this brief period of King Salman’s reign, Saudi Arabia met the challenges of Yemen war, crisis in Iran-Saudi relations, internal militancy, Syrian crisis, the major power’s interests in the Arabian Gulf, the modernization of Saudi armed forces and most significant to harmonize the Saudi civil society. While keeping his son, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman at the forefront, King Salman is tackling all these challenges with a forethought and great prudence. With such a vision, one can conclude that, King Salman and his team will overcome the current challenges with a great success, thus bringing peace, stability and economic prosperity in the Arabian Gulf region.
Pakistan-Saudi relationship has stood the test of time. Pakistan is determined to support the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at all costs. Indeed, “Over the years, the two countries have also succeeded in developing a unique synergy for mutual development. Saudi Arabia is home to the largest number of Pakistani expatriates, Pakistani engineers, construction experts and labour have played a crucial role in building infrastructure in the modern Saudi Arabia.” During the era of King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, this relationship will further strengthened to make a new history of bilateral cooperation at political, military, economic and cultural level.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.