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Monday, April 15, 2024

We support corruption purge in Pakistan: Saudi envoy! Yet another blow to Nawaz?

News Analysis |

Riyadh’s envoy to Islamabad, Nawaf bin Saeed al Malki said that his country supports the ongoing anti-corruption efforts in Pakistan while speaking at the Express Media Forum on Saturday.

While talking about a range of issues including CPEC and the corruption purge in his own country, the Ambassador said:”The Saudi anti-corruption sweep is similar to the accountability drive in Pakistan and it is necessary to purge the system [of corruption] for a peaceful and prosperous future.”

In an unprecedented crackdown, the Saudi Crown Prince detained and arrested influential officials and 11 members of the Royal family, ostensibly in a bid to root out corruption, that would help Riyadh help achieve its Vision 2030. However, watchers feel that apart from eliminating corruption, MBS is on an arrest spree in order to consolidate his power as he is poised to take the reins from his father, King Salman.

Read more:Hybrid warfare against corruption

The Ambassador’s remarks come at a time when the legal troubles are mounting for the all-powerful Sharif family. Former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, his family and Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar are, according to many inching closer and closer to conviction.

Supporters of the Sharif family and the PML-N have often said that the political damage inflicted to the Sharifs will hurt the economy. The Saudi envoy, drawing a parallel said:“However, people are slowly realizing that corruption and abuse of power are sullying the system.” He further added that initially investors were worried but are now appreciating the need for this rare cleansing campaign.

However, experts feel that this might not happen because Riyadh is itself going through major changes. 

With this coming from a high-level Saudi official, it is reasonable to state that the international community is seeing the accountability drive in Pakistan as necessary and one that is needful. Nawaz Sharif has often been berated for his close ties with the Kingdom. Analysts have time and again claimed that the Sharif family has tried to elicit Royals’ support in dire times.

Read more:The crackdown in Saudi Arabia: anti-corruption drive or ruthless power politics?

The PML-N termed Nawaz’s recent tour to the Kingdom as “positive”. It was followed by speculations of a possible bailout package for the beleaguered Sharif family. However, experts feel that this might not happen because Riyadh is itself going through major changes. 

Detractors of the Sharifs feel that even the “Saudi door” has also been shut for the ruling family. Saudi envoy’s words also point out the impression that there have been fewer buyers of the conspiracy narrative floated by the PML-N and the Sharif family.

It is poignant to mention that Sharif family are fast-losing its actual and potential sources of support at the legal, political and also at the international level.