Pakistan: Changing Face of Super Government and this time it is Saudi Arabia.

-Ashish Panday*

It is quite unbelievable and in some sense looks highly awkward at least when Pakistan has enough proof to show that it has a fiercely independent foreign policy, especially when it comes to issues such as development of nuclear weapons, construction of nuclear reactors, foreign military purchases and other issues that are vital to its national interests.

For a Pakistani, irrespective of change in government either Military or so called democracy, Saudi Arabia is something like a panacea. Until the 1960s, the idea of ​​Saudi Arabia in the mind of a common Pakistani was in the form of a country guarding the sacred places of Islam.There was also a Pakistani familiarity with the names of those from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, but there was a lot of discussion of cultural and historical relations with Iran and Turkey.When the process of reconstruction began in the Gulf countries in the 1970s, workers from Pakistan started getting employment in those countries. Not only did Pakistan start playing an important role in training the forces of the Gulf countries, the relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia began to change.

After the war between the Arab and Israel in October 1973, the close proximity of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto with Shah Faisal and Shah Khalid began to grow. Due to the separation of Bangladesh, the relations with the Gulf countries of Pakistan started giving him financially.For the first time in Pakistan politics, the importance of special relations came to light when nine opposition parties formed a common front due to rigging charges in the general elections in March 1977 and started agitation against Bhutto.The tension grew so much between the political parties, and ‘Shuttle Diplomacy’ of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador, Riyazul Khatib, started showing work in Islamabad.The opposition alliance of Pakistan agreed to negotiate with Bhutto but its result was hidden by Zia-ul-Haq.

When Zia-ul-Haq made plans for Islamization of Pakistan, he became a favorite of Saudi Arab dictators.The Saudi government and the Ulemas helped the people of Zia-ul-Haq in carrying out the civil and criminal laws in the ‘Islamic Matrix’ The same Islamic laws that were applicable in Saudi Arabia also came into effect in Pakistan. Saudi Arabia was opposed to hanging Bhutto but hanging again. But with Zia-ul-Haq, there was a lot of interest in Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship. That’s because Saudi Arabia started taking a lot of interest in Pakistan’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, after eight months of the hanging of Bhutto, the invasion of Afghanistan by the forces of Soviet Russia and the whole map changed. In order to train Afghan Mujahideen and prepare him against Russia, Saudi Arabia also started donating Rial to Pakistan for every US dollar.

Then, to fight the Left ideology of Soviet Russia, the network of mosques and madarsas was laid in Pakistan. In order to carry out this work, the US and Saudi Arabia did not allow the shortage of money. During this time there was a Shia revolution in Iran. Therefore, the Pakistani establishment started to separate from Iran with its geographical, cultural and historical relations. The ‘pendulum’ of friendship of Pakistan went completely towards Saudi Arabia and the ideological influence of Saudi Arabia started increasing in Pakistani ideology. Both countries start looking at similar principles.
Though Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had special relations with the Saudi royal family, but his daughter Benazir Bhutto’s becoming the Prime Minister had not been able to create such warmth in both the countries.
But the option of relations with Saudi Arabia for Benazir was present in the form of the United Arab Emirates.

A few months ago, Musharraf accepted the interview in a Pakistani TV channel that he had paid the house after his retirement in London and Dubai, his beloved friend, Saudi Arabia’s then Emperor Shah Abdullah. Even General Musharraf had said in his interview that Saudi Arabia’s King and so much ‘Betalkallufi’ (informal) was among them that if Shah Abdullah used to fond of smoking ‘hobbies’ then only with Musharraf. There is also Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was embroiled in the same Shah Abdullah, whom the King saved on the night of December 10, 2000, from the clutches of his friend Parvez Musharraf.

Saudi Arabia called Nawaz Sharif through the imperial aircraft Jeddah and kept the royal palace for years.Even before Pakistan did a nuclear test in May 1998, Saudi Arabia also did a great help to his friend Nawaz Sharif in distributing the burden of international economic sanctions.From that next year when General Musharraf did Kargil, Saudi Arabia also helped him out of that trouble.When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Washington on July 4, 1999, to meet President Clinton, Saudi ambassador, ShahzadaBunder bin Sultan left him to ‘Blair House’.Even before the official meeting of Nawaz Sharif Clinton, Saudi Arabia had advocated Pakistan and President Clinton’s heart softened to Pakistan.Nevertheless, Shah Abdullah’s ‘friend’ Parvez Musharraf made his pack up round on 12 October by his ‘other friend’ Nawaz Sharif.

However, this internal change of Pakistan did not have any special effect for Saudi Arabia because whatever power that took place in Pakistan would be Riyadh first.Over time, Qatar was joined by the third Gulf country in Pakistan-Arab brother-brother. When the $ 16 billion oil import agreement was set up three years ago, the common perception was that Pakistan has only economic relations with Qatar. But in the case of the Panama Leaks case, the Sharif family had to say in an attempt to relieve the neck that Pakistan had relations like not only Saudi Arabia but also the members of the royal family of Qatar. Saudi Arabia gave a $ 1.5 billion salute to Nawaz Sharif for the third time, but the royal family of Qatar also came out as a business partner of the Sharif family, and not even today 30 to 35 years ago.

Today the picture is that there is a direct link between the Pakistani army and the Saudi military establishment. Pakistan although is not playing an effective role in the Yemen war, but Pakistan’s retired army chief Rahil Sharief is surely a part of the military alliance between the 34 Muslim countries. The relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Nawaz Sharif government has not been so warm, but the Zardari family and Amirati royal families have the same warmth as before. No special treatment is made with Pakistani workers in Gulf countries, but the bird found in Pakistan ‘Talar’ is an important link between the relations between Pakistan and the Gulf countries. It is said that when General Ayub Khan was the President in Pakistan, in his time, first came to Talar and then the Arab Sheikh came behind him.

The Gulf countries are not only directly interested in Pakistan’s internal politics, but they also support the religious organizations indirectly. During the last 40 years, due to the proximity of Pakistan and the Gulf countries, Pakistan has changed a lot in social and political form. The most obvious change at the normal level is to change the ‘Khuda-Hafiz’ as ‘Allah Hafiz’ that symbolizes to opt for Arabian culture on the Persian. Operation Gibraltar, Operation Searchlight, Operation Fair Play, Operation ‘Mid Night Jackal’ used to be used by the army or paramilitary forces for peace restoration till the 1990s. But now the names of such operations have started to be known. Like ‘Rah-e-Haq’, ‘Rah-e-Rast’, ‘Zarb-e-Azab’ and ‘Nadul Fasad’.

This is a change in politics that there is a problem of transferring the Afghan Mujahideen into a single scales, ordinary people should not ignore the army or the army ignore the common people, just need someone’s letter to justify the expenditure more than the income, To stop the movement against anyone, to support someone. When cases get caught in the screw, then all these decisions are only in the Gulf countries. And thus all of them once again begin to laugh at happiness. But now a difference is arising. In the initial 30 years, there was a lot of American role for empowerment, political balance and arbitration in Pakistan. In the next 30 years, the Gulf countries took the place of America and now the time for China has already begun.

India electronic media, quite proactive in proving that Kashmir is an integral part of India, forget a responsibility while propagating this issue like Bollywood movie.  Unfortunately, even the diplomats and experts aren’t recognizing the real culprit behind ongoing issue in the region. Which sometimes becomes a small story but most of the time get escaped. For example how many have raised their eye brow on this news:

The telegraph New Delhi, April 13, 2016:

 Saudi Arabia today joined Pakistan in supporting the Kashmiri movement for “self-determination” days after the Narendra Modi government touted the Prime Minister’s visit to Riyadh as successful in wedging the Gulf power away from its pro-Islamabad policy. Today’s support at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Kashmir contact group underscored the challenges Indian diplomacy continues to face in building a global alliance against all forms of militancy. The OIC contact group consists of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Niger and Azerbaijan. The group met on the margins of the Islamic conference’s 13th summit in Turkey this week.

Indian are quite proactive while dealing with all such power blocks and in proving that they don’t want any kind of mediation at least on Kashmir and other Indo Pak issue, it’s the time to think upon.

Photo Courtesy- dunyanews.tv

*Independent blogger on Diplomacy