Merwah Qureshi |
Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) both have been enjoying cordial relations ever since the inception of Pakistan. Their strong bond of friendship gains its strength from the ideology of Islam which has cemented their brotherly relations.
They have strong cultural, political, economic, social, military and strategic ties. Saudi Arab has always supported Pakistan at regional and international forums and Pakistan has always stood by Saudi Arab in the time of peace and war.
In 1977, Pakistan renamed her city Lyallpur as Faisalabad in the honor of King Faisal. Pakistan has played an eminent part in the socio-cultural development by sending its skilled and educated human resource to KSA.
There have been few tensions in their relations as well however, those were of trivial nature and were deciphered later. Bilateral relations are strong and the intensity has always been reciprocated by both –Pakistan and Saudi Arab.
Historical Evolution of Pak-Saudi Ties
In past, both states shared a period of unprecedented cooperation, support, and solidarity. From socio-cultural to geopolitical and from economic to strategic all shades of relations have reached the pinnacles of success. The formal foundation of bilateral relations was laid by the Treaty of Friendship signed by Pakistan and The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1951.
After this treaty, Riyadh invested in various developmental projects in Pakistan. Saudi Arab supported Pakistan during her wars with India. She was the country that supported Pakistan’s nuclear plan. She stood by Pakistan during 1971 debacle. It was Riyadh which sided by Pakistan against the global sanctions regarding Pakistan’s nuclear program and kept on supplying 50,000 barrels of oil to Pakistan per day.
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In addition, Riyadh has always supported Pakistan’s stance regarding terrorism, Kashmir, Indian regional hegemony, and Afghanistan issue. This brotherly relation has always been strengthened by Pakistan by reciprocating the Saudi efforts. Pakistan has strategically and militarily supported Saudi Arab whenever it was needed.
During the gulf war, Pakistan sent her troops to protect the holy cities. Pakistan maintains close military ties with KSA. From stationing troops to the training of Saudi military, Pakistan defense forces have always tried to strengthen Saudi defense. Pakistan has provided training, technological, and intelligence support to Saudi military.
There is also a bright possibility of Islamabad-Riyadh bilateral investment treaty which will enhance their trade relations.
Pakistan is KSA’s small arms exporter as well. Pakistan has always supported KSA in the international political issues. In 1977, Pakistan renamed her city Lyallpur as Faisalabad in the honor of King Faisal. Pakistan has played an eminent part in the socio-cultural development by sending its skilled and educated human resource to KSA.
Up to 3 million Pakistanis work in Saudi Arab. Be it the military regime or the civilian one, Pakistan and Saudi Arab shared and still share a relation of mutual friendship, trust, and cooperation
The Contemporary Picture of Pak-Saudi Relations
In the present Pak-Saudi relations have observed to be gaining more strength. Though, there came a trough when Pakistan didn’t send her troops to Yemen for fighting. But that was resolved prudently afterward. The Pakistani government, made it clear that it would assist Riyadh in every field but as being a nuclear state Pakistan is to act pragmatically, so, she’ll never send her troops to any other country for it adds insult to the injuries of blood bathed the Middle East and gravely affects the efforts for regional peace process.
Pakistan applauded and supported Saudi proposed Islamic Military Alliance now known as the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC). Not only this, but the EX-COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif of Pakistan Armed Forces is the Commander-in-Chief of this military alliance (IMCTC) and Pakistan military has offered all the technical services for the smooth working of this grand alliance.
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Moreover, there is a positive trend of trade relations between Pakistan and KSA, their annual trade is up to 4 billion dollar per annum. KSA is the biggest market for Pakistani goods and services from textile to fruits and vegetables while Pakistan imports up to 90% of its oil and petroleum from KSA.
Both the countries are also working on taking their trade relation to a higher level, in the form of recently concluded 11thJoint Ministerial Meeting in Jan 2018 by Saudi-Pak Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC). In this meeting, the plan for future cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, agriculture, economy, education, and other socio-cultural sectors was sketched.
On the same hand, in order to achieve the goal of industrialization and advancement according to vision 2030 Riyadh is to establish more industrial complexes and is to advance the current ones.
Furthermore, with the help of Saudi support, a free trade agreement between Pakistan and GCC is also in progress. In addition to this, the Vision 2030 adopted by Riyadh in 2016 has opened new avenues for Saudi-Pak cooperation. There is also a bright possibility of Islamabad-Riyadh bilateral investment treaty which will enhance their trade relations. This deal will help both the countries to realize their aims of peace, prosperity, and growth.
Riyadh’s Vision 2030
Vision 2030 adopted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in April 2016 is a policy document helping the Saudi nation to achieve the aspired goals of national development and growth. It is a diversified plan having socio-economic and strategic dimensions. It involves restructuring, reshaping, and advancement of state, state agencies, and society.
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This multi-pronged approach is adopted by the Saudi government to reduce Saudi dependence on oil, to modernize its economy, to invest in; military, health, education, society, technology, non-oil industries, to buy ammunition, etc. It also includes policies regarding green cards and pilgrims. In short, vision 2030 is a policy document which promises prosperity to the Saudi nation.
Future Prospects and Opportunities for Islamabad-Riyadh Relations
The KSA’s newly maintained developmental posture is a positive sign for both Pakistan and KSA. Under the privilege of vision 2030, both countries can further strengthen their bilateral relationship. Moreover, this policy plan has provided new grounds for Saudi-Pak cooperation.
As after adopting vision 2030, the Saudi government is now seeking the new opportunities -other than oil- to restructure its economy and industry, so it should welcome Islamabad’s amicable invitation to KSA to join Chinese’ proposed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which opens the doors towards regional stability and prosperity. CPEC will help KSA to boost its economy by making its trade more expedient with Pakistan, CARs (Central Asian Republics), Russia, China, etc.
Both Islamabad and Riyadh must remember this maxim that united we stand, divided we fall or else they would fall prey to the international hostilities.
Additionally, as per this vision, Riyadh will set up a military industry so in this field again Pakistan –with its incredible expertise- can be of its great help. On the same hand, in order to achieve the goal of industrialization and advancement according to vision 2030 Riyadh is to establish more industrial complexes and is to advance the current ones. To do this Pakistan’s skilled, professional, and educated human resource can provide KSA the desired services, thus, helping the Saudi government to realize its vision 2030.
It would be a win-win solution for both states. Furthermore, on the diplomatic front, Pakistan can persuade both Iran and Saudi Arab to shun their internal differences and to fight together for the survival and security of the region. Both Saudi Arab and Pakistan while working together can bring back the lost glory of the Middle East.
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It is quite evident, that Pakistan and Saudi Arab share a long-standing tale of cordial relations. By exploring more avenues for joint cooperation their relations can be further strengthened. It is high time for both states to realize their envisaged goals of development and prosperity. Both Islamabad and Riyadh must remember this maxim that united we stand, divided we fall or else they would fall prey to the international hostilities.
Miss Merwah Hamid Qureshi holds an M. Phil Degree in Biochemistry from QAU, Islamabad and is also a visiting lecturer for International Relations at National Officers Academy (NOA), Rawalpindi. She is a freelance content writer for online portals like Amazon. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.