Connecting Regions of Asia.

Pak Snub To Saudis Will Help India

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Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi recently launched a shocking broadside at Saudi Arabia, the Gulf state with whom Islamabad has become increasingly close, let alone dependent on.

It was a sign of a new configuration in Pakistan’s foreign and economic policies which will have far wider repercussions: the pivot away from Riyadh, towards China and Turkey, is a recognition of a new global cold war, whose most explosive faultlines will include the border between Pakistan and India.

Marking the anniversary of India revoking Kashmir’s special status last week, Qureshi issued a stark and unprecedented warning to Saudi Arabia and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). He demanded Riyadh categorically support Pakistan’s position on the long-disputed territory of Kashmir, threatening that inaction would force Islamabad to ally with other Muslim states over an issue that Pakistan has long framed as a “genocide of Muslims.”

Did the Foreign Minister of Pakistan just lay down an ultimatum for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the OIC?

“Support us on Kashmir or we will get our support from other Muslim countries outside the OIC”….. pic.twitter.com/E39vKlYtVp— Khurram Husain (@KhurramHusain) August 5, 2020

Conceding that he was saying something “much bigger than my stature,” the foreign minister’s words for Saudi and the OIC were a remarkable departure from Islamabad’s erstwhile subservience to Riyadh, which has long prohibited Pakistan from any disagreement with the Saudis even in private meetings – and here the foreign minister was issuing warnings on national television.

Riyadh retaliated immediately, insisting Pakistan repay $1 billion for oil supplies that had previously been repaid in deferred payments. Who stepped in cover the debt with a last-minute loan? China. Six days after Qureshi’s TV offensive, Riyadh ended the loan and oil supply to Islamabad, despite Pakistan’s repeated requests for the renewal of the facility. 

Such was the magnitude of what Qureshi had said that anything barring his sacking would mean that the state – which in Pakistan translates into the all-powerful military, with complete control over its foreign policy – is fully behind the foreign minister’s claim, even if it is not clear if Pakistan thought through all the repercussions.

A week on, while the opposition parties have opportunistically looked to cash in on the apparent diplomatic curveball, the government’s own reaction has been to talk up relations with Saudi Arabia. But it has pointedly refused to backtrack on the foreign minister’s statement, maintaining that Pakistan would always “protect its interests.”

Courtesy – https://www.haaretz.com/

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