Pak-Saudi relations: A new dimension


Pakistan eagerly awaits the visit of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to his second home. When Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed power, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman were the first to congratulate him on the assumption of power indicating their enhanced interest in taking the relations between the two countries to new heights. Prime Minister Imran Khan has also visited Saudi Arabia twice since assuming the mantle of premiership of the country. The desire for giving a new direction to the mutual ties stems from the compatibility of the visions of the leaders of the two countries for transformational change in the way of governance to cope with emerging challenges. The vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to transform Pakistan along the lines of the state of Madinah matches the eagerness of the Saudi leaders to implement Vision 2030 which aims at opening up Saudi society in line with modern realities while maintaining the Islamic moorings of the country. The recent opening up of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reflects the broad parameters of this new vision of inclusive social transformation according to Islamic principles and Pakistan is fully supportive of it.

Pakistan since its creation has been pursuing a foreign policy focused on developing special relations with Muslim countries in line with the vision of its founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who envisaged the creation of a solid bloc of all Muslim states. Relations with Saudi Arabia are at the center of the goals of Quaid’s dream. Both countries have not only worked together from the platform of the OIC to espouse and support the causes of the Muslim world but have also sought to develop impregnable bilateral relations to their mutual advantage.

The ties between the two countries are based on religious, cultural, political, commercial and strategic affinities, which have progressed from strength to strength. The relations between the two countries are aptly reflected in this quote by Paulo Coelho: “Friendship is not about whom you have known the longest - it is about who came and never left”.

Saudi leaders as custodians of the holy places of Islam and by virtue of their unique status and the reverence that they enjoy are held in the highest esteem by the people of Pakistan as well as by its leaders. The promotion of culture and media exchanges play a pivotal role in creating understanding among the masses. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have also supported each other at international forums.

Recently the Pakistani film “Parwaz-hai-junoun” was premiered in Saudi cinemas and it is expected that cultural cooperation between the two countries will grow further in the wake of the visit of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. A formal MoU will be signed between the two countries to promote cultural and media cooperation. This added dimension to relations between the two countries will foster, strengthen and sustain people-to-people contact.

Saudi Arabia like a true friend and a brotherly Muslim country has shown exceptional commitment to support and assist Pakistan. Whenever Pakistan has faced any adversity, financial problems or natural calamity Saudi Arabia was always among the first countries to offer help and assistance. Pakistan has also been in the forefront in assisting Saudi Arabia to ward off external threats to her territorial integrity and security concerns.

It is Pakistan’s declared policy that in case of threats to Saudi territorial integrity Pakistan considers that its obligation is to defend Saudi Arabia and has vowed to defend the holy cities at all costs if, God forbid, they were to be attacked. This legacy of cooperation and support has been taken to the next level by the Government of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pak-Saudi brotherhood for peace progress and development will be further nourished in the times to come.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia resulted in a package of $6 billion comprising $3 billion as a balance of payment support for one year and a supply of $3 billion worth of oil on deferred payment for three years. The Saudi leaders are also keen on setting up an oil refinery at Gawadar as well as investing in the development of mineral resources in Pakistan. Various agreements for Saudi investments in Pakistan are likely to be signed during the visit to Pakistan by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s interest in investments in Pakistan demonstrates its economic potential. “This is the time to invest in Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan in his speech at the UAE World Summit. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the first to recognize this potential.

The relations between the two countries notwithstanding rapid changes in the geo-political and security situation in the Middle East are poised to gain strength with every passing day. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are indispensable for each other and the leaders of the two countries and their people understand this imperative unambiguously.

The author is Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting