“New Standards”… Factors Pushing Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to Reform Relations After “Kashmir and the Loan”

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A month after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Saudi Arabia, the two sides appear to be working to restore warmth to relations between the two allies after months of tensions over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Two researchers saw in an article for them in a magazine National Interest The US states that both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are facing their international isolation by working to mend their relations.

They said that the Saudi-Pakistani relationship has shown flexibility in bearing the challenges arising from geopolitical changes in South Asia and the Middle East.

However, their relationship has changed, requiring the top leadership on both sides to re-evaluate each other’s expectations, demands, and red lines to maintain the same level of relationship that existed prior to 2015.

The two researchers talked about “factors that reflect the Saudi-Pakistani rapprochement.”

Among these factors was what the researchers described as the “isolation” facing Islamabad and Riyadh, as they need each other more than ever.

Commenting on this, Pakistani analyst Qamar Cheema told Al-Hurra that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as Imran Khan, did not receive any call from the United States.

Last February, Saudi King Salman had a phone conversation with US President Joe Biden, before the release of a declassified intelligence report on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, avoiding talking with the crown prince, who is seen as the de facto ruler of the kingdom.

“Western countries led by the United States have stopped helping Riyadh in its war in Yemen, including some countries imposing an arms embargo on the kingdom,” the researchers say. At the same time, Pakistan’s prominence in important Western capitals is waning as the United States and NATO forces withdraw from the kingdom. Afghanistan”.

Besides, Islamabad was also disturbed by the FATF’s gray list with regard to terrorist financing.

According to the two researchers, to get rid of these Western criticisms, Saudi Arabia is working to reconcile it with important Islamic powers, such as Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

“Riyadh needs Islamabad – the only Muslim nuclear power – to ensure that Turkey does not drift towards Turkey and maintains its position as the undisputed leader of the Muslim world. Pakistan has historically supported the kingdom’s leadership of the nation. Meanwhile, Pakistan needs Saudi generosity for social and economic reasons to avoid harsh terms,” ​​they continued. imposed by the International Monetary Fund.

In this context, Cheema said that in the context of Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with countries such as Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey and Iran, “Riyadh has succeeded in convincing Islamabad that it will not be its explicit partner in the Kashmir issue with India, and Pakistan has realized that.”

“A nail in the coffin of relations” .. “Riyadh loan” reveals the depth of the Saudi-Pakistani dispute

It is unusual for Saudi Arabia to insist on recovering its loans, especially to countries with which it has historical friendships. But this did not happen recently with Pakistan, which Riyadh pressured to return the money. So why does the Kingdom’s position change now regarding the strategic ally?

Retired Saudi Major General Muhammad Al-Harbi, a specialist in political and strategic studies, commented to Al-Hurra: “Pakistan’s membership in the Islamic Military Coalition to Combat Terrorism, which was established by Riyadh, is a qualitative addition to this alliance, which is the basic system for combating extremism and supporting the values ​​of moderation and moderation over level of the Islamic world.

Al-Harbi added, “There is great joint cooperation in the military field between the Kingdom and Pakistan, and the two countries carry out periodic military exercises and joint maneuvers, to develop the combat skills of officers and members of the forces.”

Saudi Arabia announced the formation of this Islamic military coalition, consisting of 34 countries, to fight terrorism, in December 2015.
According to Cheema, the relationship between the two countries has witnessed conflicts since 2015, but it was not threatened, and the leadership of the two countries reassessed it.

In April 2015, the Pakistani parliament voted in favor of a resolution not to intervene militarily in Yemen, as part of the Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm against the Houthis, after Riyadh asked Islamabad to contribute to the war with ships, planes and soldiers, which angered Riyadh.

But tensions between the two countries reached a climax over the disputed region of Kashmir. The wealthy kingdom appeared to resent Pakistan last year, after Islamabad tried to push Riyadh to take a firm stance on Kashmir.

In a strongly worded statement in August, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called the Saudi-led Organization of Islamic Cooperation to hold a high-level meeting on disputed Kashmir with India.

The comment infuriated Riyadh, which saw it as a warning that Pakistan was preparing to call a meeting of Muslim countries outside the Organization of Cooperation, thus an attempt to undermine its leadership of the 57-member Islamic organization.

At the time, the kingdom borrowed $1 billion from a $3 billion loan from cash-strapped Pakistan, and an expired oil credit facility worth billions of dollars was not renewed.

In recent years, the kingdom has backed Pakistan with billions of dollars in financial aid and loans, but observers say Saudi Arabia is also keen not to anger India, the main trading partner and importer of Saudi crude oil, which has a dispute with Pakistan over the Kashmir region.

Al-Harbi says that the kingdom is interested in the development and prosperity of Pakistan.

According to Al-Harbi, the Saudi Fund for Development has provided Pakistan with many assistance, including 20 development loans to contribute to the implementation of 17 projects in the sectors of energy, dams, water and sanitation, transport and infrastructure, with a value of 3.5 billion riyals.

It also provided financing and guarantee of exports worth 17.6 million, financing support for Pakistan’s import of Saudi oil derivatives worth 270 million, and allocating three grants worth 1.250 billion to finance reconstruction projects and rehabilitation of earthquake-affected areas.

But the warmth that Khan and Bajwa brought on their recent visit to Saudi Arabia, which Islamabad says came at the invitation of the Saudi crown prince, does not mean full reconciliation between the two countries, Cheema says. “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia realized that they had to lower expectations and re-alignment with new standards.”

He also ruled out the resumption of Saudi financial aid to Pakistan, saying: “With the lack of trust and the reorganization of relations between the two countries, the issue of financial assistance may not be so easy.”

But given how transformative new relations between Islamabad and Riyadh will be, “Pakistan may not ask for new financial assistance but will ask for investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and other areas,” Cheema said.

Washington has expressed concerns about the fall of Pakistan and other developing countries in what it describes as a Chinese debt trap, and has previously criticized plans for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor sponsored by Beijing, which includes pledges to support more than 60 billion dollars for infrastructure projects in Pakistan.





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