Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Relationship moving through transformation

Prof Shazia Cheema

The writer Shazia Cheema is an analyst writing for international media outlets including Eurasia Diary, InSight, Mina, and Dispatch News Desk (DND) She did her MA in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is currently registered as a Ph.D. Scholar of Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague.

World media, particularly Indian newspapers are writing on Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations and one can find several articles published in Indian, European, North American, South Asian, and Middle Eastern Media having almost the same conclusion that close relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are stories of bygone days.

Important points raised in several articles include the following opinions:

  • Saudi Arabia has demanded its money back it lent to Pakistan as cash assistance and Pakistan has managed to pay back money after lending it from China. Pakistan repaid $1 billion in May-July 2020 and one more $1 billion was paid back this week.
  • Saudi Arabia is deporting all workers belonging to Pakistan.
  • Indian Army Chief was invited by Saudi Arabia and it was the first visit of its kind.

Can the above-mentioned points dent Pak-Saudi Relations? is an important question.

As time is changing and world dynamics are shifting unconventionally, eccentric minds are using this as a tool to deepen the imaginary sway between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Western media’s so-called humanitarian champion with all its hypocrisy is no more human-centric in our case. They are a by-product of the western philosophy “good for all evil for none” just conveniently forgets that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia possess full right to think for themselves. Countries with all their autonomy trying to cope with the rapid pace of time and space, clinging to old slogans, cherishing old myths may not seem fit to move forward.

Naïve would be those who think future alliances will be made on, race, religion, and linguistics

World politics, economics, the situation of war and peace hence every single aspect demands revisitation of relations and policies. Branding something makes it accessible, just like so and so countries are in so and so bloc and that entire bloc is in favor or against of that XYZ bloc. It is right, categorization makes ideas comprehensible but now, clear classification is not possible due to blurry global politics. Naïve would be those who think future alliances will be made on, race, religion, and linguistics. I ask bluntly why Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are bothering your (Western Media) brain right now, is it because of religion? Why two Muslim countries are not sharing the same foreign policy? If that is the case, then you must be among the first to appreciate it. Western media must look forward to it that so-called race, religion bloc is thinking otherwise.

Now alliances do not need even friendship, the reason of association could be very tangible

My understanding on the contrary, that this hue and cry is not about Pakistan, Saudi Arabia’s relationship, the problem lies within it. If both countries form new alliances what shape this region will take? Neither they nor us, have any doubt about Pakistan-Saudi Arabia friendship.

Let me clarify, now alliances do not need even friendship, the reason of association could be very tangible, it always was, but Islamabad is in habit of using a soft note, maybe because, by nature people of East give friendly names to associations, but now onward let’s not dwell into that. Muslim countries have utility for Christian country Christian for Jew or Buddhist country, just put religion aside for the future and lets brush are linguistics.

Now countries will become beneficial and utilizable, or productive for each other without being connected with religion or cultural bonds. Nations will not hide their functionality under brotherhood, it will be out and open.

I believe that the dynamics of Saudi Foreign Policy have changed but Saudi Arabia still considers Pakistan as its close friend if not brother. Saudi’s relationship with India does not mean that it does not wish good relations with Pakistan as Pakistan’s relations with Iran do not mean that Islamabad is an adversary of Riyadh.

The new Foreign Policy of Saudi Arabia is multi-dimensional, pro-active and beyond the Cliché of Islamic Ummah, Brotherly Muslim country, and Brotherly relations. These are Obsolete narratives that already died in the last century.

Saudi Arabian close relations with Israel and India are not a shocking development for students of International Affairs and Foreign Relations. Former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri in his interview (when he was sitting Foreign Minister) to a news channel confirmed that Pakistan had been in contact with Israel since the early 60s. War on Terror launched after 9/11 had sowed seeds of new relations, collaborations, and groupings. Moreover, the empowerment of a new generation in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries has shaped the new Middle East and apparently led by Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The future political landscape of this planet is rough terrain, no more brothers and sisters, productivity and utility are the only relations between countries, nostalgia will be frailty and hard feelings will pay no benefit.

Intellectual Reforms in Saudi Arabia are reforming its half-century-old classical and traditional foreign policy. But one point would remain the same in the old and new foreign policy of Saudi Arabia that is historic Arab and Ajam infighting thereby Iran would remain an adversary for the Royal families of the Gulf while Iran would remain neighboring country of Pakistan. Pakistan cannot distance from Iran being a neighbor so Saudi Arabia has every right to approach enemies of Pakistan—–India and both countries (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) should respect each other’s decision while forming their foreign policies.

One should not forget that India is now a Strategic Partner of the United States that is a Strategic Partner of Saudi Arabia, therefore, one must accept the reality that India, Saudi Arabia, US, and Israel are linked with each other like a chain of partnerships

Regarding the first-ever visit of Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, to Saudi Arabia and UAE, one should not forget that India is now a Strategic Partner of the United States that is a Strategic Partner of Saudi Arabia, therefore, one must accept the reality that India, Saudi Arabia, US, and Israel are linked with each other like a chain of partnerships. I believe there would be more such visits of Indian military leadership to Israel, UAE, and Saudi Arabia in the future.

Regarding the deportation of Pakistani workers from Saudi Arabia, one should not forget that Saudi Arabia is sending a majority of workers irrespective of their nationality and Pakistani workers are not the only ones who have been sent back. Saudi Arabia has a new national policy towards foreign workers and this policy will in practice for the next decade.

Regarding repayment, Saudi Arabian cash assistance to Pakistan is not a positive development that Pakistan repaid $2 billion before stipulated time? Pakistan and China are collaborating in one of the greatest development projects of South Asia—CPEC so taking a loan from China and paying the loan back to Saudi Arabia is normal development and must not be taken in a dramatic way.

The future political landscape of this planet is rough terrain, no more brothers and sisters, productivity and utility are the only relations between countries, nostalgia will be frailty and hard feelings will pay no benefit.

We must accept every country’s right, rich or poor, big or small that they can form new associations by keeping or discarding the old ones. Pakistan is blessed with a crucial geopolitical location, and by not using soft notes, I must say that Pakistan’s utility is unprecedented. Saudi Arabia has never forced its foreign policy on Pakistan and Pakistan never disconnected its association with Iran, the only benefit of bold Saudi foreign policy is the freedom of using mixed notes with mixed instruments.

Saudi Arabia needs representation in South Asia and Pakistan knows its utility, Iran is Pakistan’s neighbour and Pakistan will keep close ties toward Iran, just as Pakistan is not bothered by Saudi, India, and Israel relationship.

Islamabad is aware of the future perspectives for Pakistan and can fully grasp that nation-building comes first, who so ever is productive in that process is legible for an alliance.

So-called Western media propagating this idea for decades now in a state of shock to see how expediently, with utter ease, the East has embraced it. The pursuit for the greater good putting aside cast, creed, and the colour is the right of every nation of the 21st century.

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.