CPEC
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Riyadh will soon invest in the Gwadar Port and become part of the mega-project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This was revealed by the Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Pakistan, Nawaf Saeed Ahmed Al-Malkiy during an interview with Jang Group of Publications.

The envoy, Al Malkiy said that the two countries are working toward strengthening trading and fraternal ties. “More than three million Pakistanis are playing their role in the progress and prosperity of Saudi Arabia, and his country’s investment in CPEC would allow the kingdom to play a similar role in Pakistan,” said the ambassador.

Riyadh’s pumping money in CPEC apart from disturbing Iran would be considered as an attempt to further spread Wahhabi ideology in the country, stoking up sectarianism

CPEC is a multi-billion dollar project linking Kashgar with Gwadar. It is the flagship of China’s One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative. It has brought the even otherwise strong allies in China and Pakistan closer.

Read more: Pakistani businessman’s dreams of “CPEC fortunes” getting frustrated?

The ambassador said that bilateral ties will be further strengthened by more cultural and educational exchange programs. Last month, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited the kingdom and while lauding its Vision 2030 vowed to continue collaboration with the Kingdom.

Al Malkiy referred to the meeting and said that new conduits of cooperation will be explored. Last month, Al Malkiv had expressed the desire to be part of the project as it could help both countries to benefit from newly emerging investment opportunities.

Delhi has shown its opposition to CPEC by boycotting the Belt and Road Summit earlier this year.The US, on the other hand, is banking on India to curtail China

Over the past one year, Pakistan’s strong bonds with the Kingdom have put Pakistan in a quandary. The simmering tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia meant that Pakistan had to balance-off as a tilt towards either of the two countries would have spelled trouble. Pakistan resisting sending forces to Yemen to fight on behalf of the Saudi forces against Iran-backed Houthis.

Read more: Naval sailors attacked in Baluchistan: another attempt to slow down CPEC?

Keeping Iran’s concerns in mind, Pakistan time and again asserted that the Islamic Military Alliance against Terrorism(IMAFT) should target any country. General Raheel, the former Army Chief is currently commanding the force.

Al Malkiy assured that the alliance was against terrorism and not against any country. President Trump’s tirade against Iran in the Riyadh Summit has given the impression that it is an anti-Iran alliance. The envoy also said that General Raheel is there to guide and enhance the capabilities of the forces. He said that General Bajwa attached great importance to the kingdom by choosing it as the country for his first official visit.

Cautioned optimism

CPEC is a launching pad for China to expand its clout in the region and beyond; this brings it in direct confrontation with the US and India. Delhi has shown its opposition to CPEC by boycotting the Belt and Road Summit earlier this year. The US, on the other hand, is banking on India to curtail China.

Al Malkiy assured that the alliance was against terrorism and not against any country. President Trump’s tirade against Iran in the Riyadh Summit has given the impression that it is an anti-Iran alliance

However, the US has to take cognizance of Iran too. Ties between Iran and the US are fast-deteriorating with the nuclear deal in real danger. Trump’s urge for other nations to confront Iran could be behind pushing Riyadh to invest in CPEC. The idea is to drive a wedge between Iran and Pakistan who off-late have started to mend their ties.

Read more: CPEC: Is the sovereignty of Pakistan being compromised?

Both countries are averse to Trump’s new South Asia policy and have agreed to cooperate for a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. Riyadh’s pumping money in CPEC apart from disturbing Iran would be considered as an attempt to further spread Wahhabi ideology in the country, stoking up sectarianism.

More than three million Pakistanis are playing their role in the progress and prosperity of Saudi Arabia, and his country’s investment in CPEC would allow the kingdom to play a similar role in Pakistan

In 2016, China and Saudi Arabia announced a comprehensive strategic partnership and set up a high-level steering committee to guide and coordinate cooperation.China was ready and willing to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Arabia’s Economic Vision 2030.

Under the framework, Zhang suggested that the two sides should promote cooperation in industrial capacity, equipment manufacturing, energy, trade, investment, finance, science and technology, culture and security. So there are reasons as to why Riyadh is interested in joining the project. This is an encouraging development for pure trading purposes, for it would strengthen CPEC and add to its vitality in the future.

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