Dr Nasreen Akhtar
RELATIONS between the states are based on
mutual respect and interest. Emotions or dismiss
ive criticism do not work, however, this may hurt the relations. Pak-Saudi relations are as old as Pakistan is itself. Both enjoy deep cultural ties (religious). Saudi royal family always supported Pakistan whenever Pakistan needed its help. In recent past (during Nawaz era) we observed stalemate between the two countries but the present government under Imran Khan has normalized relations and removed all misconceptions. However, many writers, analysts are criticizing the whole Muslim world, particularly Saudi Arabia. In fact, they were expecting strong action against India from the leading Muslim country, Saudi Arab. After India’s unilateral and by force annexation of the dispute territory, Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistani majority expects too much from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have forgotten what Saudi Arabia has done for Pakistan.
Every state acts according to its policy. Some States have compulsions- they do not support openly or they take their time to respond. Influx always comes from Saudi Arabia in crisis, we must not forget. This year, the visit of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman had developed history of trust, cooperation, and friendship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince kicked off commendable agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Khan’s government. Muhammad Bin Salman is known as moderate, visionary and reformist Prince in the world. He has introduced many social changes in Saudi Arabia. During his visit to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Khan was offered economic support of $6 billion to lift up Pakistan. This was the time when Pakistan was facing grave economic challenges. His visit helped Pakistan boost up its economy. Since its independence, Pakistan heavily relied on three countries, America, China and Saudi Arabia for its economic, security and political assistance. But Saudi Arabia never asked Pakistan for kickback neither put conditions.
Saudi Arabia is an important country in the Muslim world. Pakistani people have strong emotional attachment owning to two sacred places, Makkah and Madina. Pakistani governments and people are always ready to protect Saudi Arabia because of these holy places. In the Muslim world these two countries cover broader strategic, military and economic ties. Saudi Arabia values Pakistan not only due to its strong defence but also its role in the Islamic world. Since Pakistan is commanding Islamic Military Alliance of 34 Islamic countries, under retired General Raheel Sharif, the Saudi government seeks Pakistan’s role in eliminating terrorism in the Middle East because Pakistan has successfully eliminated terrorist network from its soil. Pakistan is an important country for Saudi Arabia owning to its strong defence and nuclear technology in the Muslim world.
Increasing global security alliances and cooperation between the countries have changed the dynamics of world politics. In the present global environment relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are emerging. Let us have a candid look at Pak-Saudi cordial relations. Since Pakistan’s inception, strong ties have existed between these two countries. Evidently, Saudi Arabia never disappointed Pakistan during the latter’s internal or external crises. Pakistan never forgets its support during wars with India in 1965 and 71 and politically supported Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. History tells us, the US, the most trustworthy ally of Pakistan did not help Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. In 1979, Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and threatened Pakistan’s security.
Saudi Arabia helped Pakistan. In Pakistan’s history different governments (civil-military) have ruled and all political and military establishments strengthened cordial relations with Saudi Kingdom and assured Pakistan’s security and political support to Saudi Arabia. All Pakistani rulers pay frequent visits to Saudi Arabia to show their affection and support to the King of Saudi Arabia. Strategically, “since 1950s, all Pakistani governments have assured, many times, Saudi Arabia that whenever there is a threat to Saudi security” Pakistan would protect its territory, though commitment is not “documented” but both regard each other. There is a general (public) perception in Pakistan that Saudi Arabia’s security is Pakistan’s security. The reason is simple; majority middle and working class is in Saudi Arabia and playing pivotal role in the development of Saudi Arabia. As far as defence is concerned, in 1979, the blockade of Ka’aba and “Grand Mosque was ended with the help of Pakistani special units” and Pakistani forces were deployed in Saudi Arabia for its internal security and close military cooperation between the two countries continues today.
Since 1970s defence and economic cooperation continues between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In early 1990s when Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait, Pakistan sent its forces to defend Saudi Arabia’s border. When international sanctions were imposed on Pakistan after its first nuclear test in 1998, Saudi Arabia, the only Muslim country, “promised 50,000 barrels per day of free oil so Pakistan could cope with the economic sanctions”. No doubt, Saudi Arabia has supported Pakistan during economic depression and natural disastrous. For example, “Saudi Arabia provided $10 million during the 2005 deadly earthquake and $170 million during the worst flood of 2010 in Pakistan. In 2014, Pakistan faced economic crisis and Saudi Arabia granted $1.5 billion and helped stabilise Pakistan’s fragile economy”. Saudi Arabia, recently, has provided “$6 billion bailout package” for Pakistan’s fragile economy. As far as the recent Kashmir conflict is concerned Prime Minister Khan and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman are in touch. Saudi Arabia knows it very well when to act and how. Therefore, Pakistani intelligentsia should not malign any Muslim country without knowing its historical background. This is not the appropriate time to criticise Muslim, friendly, countries. Neither it is the time to remind other countries that what have you (Pakistan) done for them. Believe in your own potential and keep your house in order.
—The writer is Assistant Professor, IIUI, Islamabad.