Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by ajtr, Mar 1, 2010.
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Saudi Arabia has been in the news lately and much of it for reasons that may unsettle some here. But a closer look at the goings-on and speculation suggests that the perceived ‘negative’ impact on Pakistan may be an exaggeration.
Yesterday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh became the first Indian prime minister to visit Saudi Arabia in nearly three decades and his Saudi hosts clearly rolled out the red carpet for him and his entourage. But Pakistanis needn’t worry about losing out in a zero-sum game for Saudi Arabia’s attention. The Saudis were simply acknowledging an emerging reality: that India is establishing itself as a big regional power, and trade with it is becoming increasingly important for other countries.
Afghanistan featured only marginally in the talks — the two countries called for the preservation of Afghanistan’s ‘sovereignty and independence’ — though the Indians will almost certainly be hoping that Saudi Arabia will, when the time comes, try and placate Pakistan over India’s future role in Afghanistan. Even so, it seems quite far-fetched that Saudi Arabia will side with India and veto Pakistan on anything to do with Afghanistan. The Saudis know that a period of uncertainty lies ahead for many of the areas they have an interest in, from Iraq to Yemen and Afghanistan to Iran, and they will want to avoid introducing radical new elements in the most stable of their relationships, such as they have with Pakistan. It’s worth noting, though, that where Pakistan may be interested in Saudi help, India remains fiercely opposed to it: on Kashmir. Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor had to hastily clarify, in the face of criticism from the domestic opposition, that there was no possibility of Saudi ‘mediation’ on the Kashmir issue.
The other big speculation doing the rounds is that the Saudis have leaned on Pakistan in recent weeks to move against the Afghan Taliban leaders scattered across the country here. But this too seems unlikely. While there certainly appears to have been a ‘shift’ in Pakistan’s policy on the Afghan Taliban, two other elements have probably played a bigger role in making that shift possible: renewed American pressure on Pakistan, coinciding with the start of the ‘surge’ in southern Afghanistan, and the Pakistan Army’s internal perceptions of the threat that the Afghan Taliban pose to this country. Only time will tell if the shift in policy is permanent: the army may have decided that enhanced tactical cooperation at this time is merited even though its broader strategic calculations remain the same. Either way, Saudi intervention, if it has in fact occurred, is unlikely to have been decisive.
Indian diplomacy certainly looks to have come off age. There are mainly five countries where Pakistan seeks economic, diplomatic and strategic patronage, namely the usa, the prc and with in the Islamic world the ksa, turkey and iran, and if anything the end of cold war era has certainly come as a baggage of loads of opportunities for us that we have certainly not missed out on by converting them to our advantage for furthering our strategic interests.
During the cold war era there was never a time we had closely worked with any of these five countries, but today all of them in some way or the other want to and have been working with us and this has been achieved by not eroding our strategic influence in our main bastion of yester years, Russia and a new found strategic partner, Israel.
It all began with the usa, which right after the nuclear tests tried to pin us down with numerous sanctions which were not to last for more than 3 years, when 9/11 happened and since then it is the same usa which has brought us out of nuke tech apartheid, not only that, prior to that they always used the Kashmir issue to blackmail us using the uk as a pressing point so that we give in and hand over Kashmir to Pakistan but not any more, compared to those days, they have more or less taken the back seat, and are pushing for a resolution where the LoC gets concerted as the IB, a sentiment shared by India, and the much talked about mush-MMS resolution revolves around that.
The prc was never our strong point and still is not, and they today remain as one of the biggest supporters of Pakistan either by militarily arming them which remains a grave challenge for us or by doling out economic benefits for them, but even here one has seen a change where right after 26/11 india used Beijing to press in on terror network to which Pakistan certainly did seem to have yielded to, to a more recent snub they handed out to the Pakistan again on the Kashmir issue where at the request of the Pakistan foreign minister they did not jump into mediate between India and Pakistan and even before India could react to this proposal, the invite had been shelved in the cold storage by Beijing itself by saying a no and this was followed by again saying a no on any kind of investments in PoK keeping in with the sensitivities of India, the significance of which has to be understood under the context when just last year they were ready to dive in to by taking up such projects earning India’s ire. Some real smart work done there by the Indians.
India having sided with iraq during iraq-iran war also termed as the first gulf war did cause a lot of friction between India-iran relations but then that was only natural because the iran of shah’s days was an anti India country which in the 71 war had sided with pakistan, so the suspicion lingered on and it was to take the second gulf war for India to understand the change in stance of iran which since then was started to be befriended, to the extent India used their influence on at least one occasion (I suspect on 2 occassions) to not allow passage of a resolution condemning India’s role in J&K during the United Nations Human Rights Commission's annual session in Geneva, in April 1994. Along with that much needed support at a very crucial time, today iran remains one of our main oil and gas suppliers, much to the irritation of Pakistan.
Amongst all these five countries it is only turkey which remains a little withdrawn from us but hopefully we could work them around as well in the near future, but that does not mean we have not had economic benefits from them but to isolate Pakistan on the Kashmir issue this still remains a bastion to be won over
The latest fort to fall is the ksa, the plan which came to execution during king abdullah’s India visit in 2006, who was then the first head of the ksa to have visited in 50years and the fruits of this were not far to be seen when in a terrific diplomatic victory India almost managed to get entry in the oic by the support of gulf countries at the behest of the ksa, Oman, Qatar and it would have all been done had the Pakistani ambassador to oic not come to know about his plan at the very last moment in the wee hours of the day when this maneuver was to be pulled off. One can imagine to the extent to which Pakistan was in oblivion on this issue and nearly backstabbed by their arab brothers who did not let the wind out on this issue till the very last moment and had it not been musharraf personally calling up all the arab state heads shouting Pakistan will pull out of the oic and threatening to call a press conference on this issue, by now India would have very well been a part of oic. That aside, arabs have not taken public stand on the Kashmir issue, and have maintained that it is a bilateral issue between both India and Pakistan and needs to be sorted out peacefully between the two countries. With this the ksa also comes as a great investment generating state for India which looks to take big strides economically and it is good to hear the non-double taxation treaty is in place which is sure to tap huge unused financial resources of the gulf states and I am sure in another 2-3 years the ksa along with Singapore and Mauritius will be a top investor in India.
India has taken these huge diplomatic strides at a time when Pakistan remains a rental state to further others core interests and it is no mere feet achieved where 2 of their main supporters are seen as clearly supporting India on the Kashmir issue, with 2 maintaining a neutral stand. One just has to look at the coverage given by Pakistan media and Pakistanis on internet to the visit of Pm to the ksa and compare it to what India or Indians have given in contrast.
Pakistan seems damn nervous!
Manmohan Singhs Saudi Arabia visit and its affect on Pak-India talks.
Naseem Zehra with
1. Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan
2. Marvi Memon
3. Tariq Fatemi
4. Hamid Gul
some editorial reactios from pakistanj press:
Pakistan losing space
Separate names with a comma.