Saudi Arabia-Pakistan: Two Strategic Partners

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are two strategic partners which share so many common interests of socio-economic integration, better political consultation and understanding on different regional as well as international issues, greater military cooperation and above all strong resolve against looming threat of terrorism.

Most recent visit of Saudi Defence Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz reaffirmed again strategic orientation of our bilateral relations. The visit of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan is an important milestone in Saudi-Pakistani relations.

He met with so many high dignitaries and officials. He had a meaningful meeting with Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif. They discussed mutual cooperation in defence and security matters and fight against terrorism. They agreed to promote bilateral relations and strengthen cooperation in matters of mutual interests. The two leaders also focused on economic cooperation within the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030.

Besides closer cooperation in politics, economy, religion and culture, the two countries’ security is also intertwined and interdependent. Riyadh and Islamabad are “close to each other culturally,” and must also focus on cultural cooperation, it said. “Pakistan has supported Saudi initiative on the formation of Islamic Military Alliance against terrorism and it is also a member of the alliance,”

This is the second visit of the Saudi defence minister to Islamabad. He had earlier visited Pakistan in January this year. Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud is considered as one of the most influential men in the country. He is the second deputy prime minister and the youngest minister of defence in the world.

During his visit Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has assured the visiting Saudi Defence Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz that Pakistan would stand by Saudi Arabia through thick and thin as solidarity and integrity of the Kingdom is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s external policy. Saudi Arabia’s defence minister called Pakistan an important country of the region and said that Pak-Saudi friendship is getting stronger and stronger with the passage of time.

The deputy crown prince was received the protocol of the head of the government during his stay in Pakistan as he was received by Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. The prime minister received the distinguished guest immediately upon his arrival at the PM House. Both leaders thoroughly discussed the whole spectrum of ties between the two brotherly countries.

The problems regarding Pakistani expatriates also figured in the talks. Saudi Arabia, the sources said, has shown interest in defence procurements from Pakistan. It is likely that federal minister for Defence Production Rana Tanvir Hussain will pay follow-up visit of Saudi Arabia.

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Saudi Defence Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz had discussion about the global efforts for eradication of terrorism with the prime minister. He eulogised Pakistan and its Armed Forces’ efforts for eliminating terrorism. Saudi Arabia values Pakistan’s resolve against terrorism and its role of which is seen critical to efforts directed to ensure peace and security in the Middle East and in its extended neighborhood.

A range of subjects including key bilateral and regional issues, were discussed during the meeting of Crown Prince Mohammad with high-ranking Pakistani officials. Prince Mohammad also discussed issues related to mutual cooperation in different sectors. The visit is part of the regular exchange of visits of top Saudi and Pakistani officials. The matters of mutual concerns figured on top of the agenda.

It’s interesting to mention that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has paid four visits to the kingdom since January this year. President Mamnoon Hussain also visited Saudi Arabia last month. These visits indicate that the kingdom and Pakistan share common political, strategic and economic objectives.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close relations and have identical viewpoints on major regional and international issues. On commercial front, the two countries have forged closer ties. The investors’ confidence in the Pakistani economy is manifested in the recently concluded Pak-China Economic Corridor agreement that is poised to bring $46 billion investment in Pakistan.

According to Saudi Arabian figure about two million Pakistani expatriates live and work in Saudi Arabia. Pakistan hold its defense ties with Saudi Arabia in highest esteem and it attaches great importance to the security of the kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The prime minister and the Saudi deputy crown prince pledged to further enhance the bilateral ties between the two brotherly countries and strengthen their cooperation in diverse fields. Both the leaders discussed issues of mutual interest at regional and international levels.

Concluding Remarks

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have a strategic partnership in which greater socio-economic integration, regular political consultation and the last but not the least, military cooperation always remain foremost priority. Emerging geopolitical and geo-strategic trends related to peace in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and security within and beyond the sacred soil and GCC military shield and terrorism has already fostered bilateral relations in terms of greater military cooperation. Both countries share so many commonalities on different regional as well as international issues which need to be further consolidated.

Saudi Arabia strategic vision 2030 is the combination of rapid socio-economic progress and prosperity, greater industrialization, optimal levels of productive channels, persuasion of alternative energy resources, diversification of economy and the last but not the least, greater commercial diplomacy. It widens the scope of Saudi-Pak bilateral relations. It further brightens the prospects of socio-economic ties. It further fosters the chances of joint ventures and FDIs.

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