Rejuvenating Pak-KSA bilateral ties

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Amid paradigm shift in the regional politics of the Middle East, Prime Minister Imran along with the delegation likely to visit KSA in the first week of January. The visit holds immense significance in determining the trajectory of bilateral ties between the two states. History vindicates that emboldened by ideological assimilations and mutual bond of bonhomie, Pakistan, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia share deeply rooted Security, strategic, social, political, and economic ties. Pakistanis have a special regard for the KSA for being the prominent state of the Muslim world and its position as the custodian of Islam’s holiest cities. Apart from bilateral engagement, both states cherish a prominent role in the Muslim world through sharing the OIC forum. KSA has been amongst the most valuable partner of Pakistan and it remains the key actor in providing economic assistance in crucial times. Notably, during the Indo-Pak wars, and atomic tests of Pakistan it has shown unconditional diplomatic support.
Likewise, both partners share an extensive economic relationship. Currently, 2.5 million Pakistan’s contributes to the economic prosperity of KSA and it also generates remittances of $2 billion for Pakistan. Also, bilateral cooperation is further deepened in the energy sector as KSA is the largest source of the petroleum industry of Pakistan. It also plans to set up a $10Bn oil refinery in Gwadar and likely to invest in the Reko-Diq mine. KSA also vows to use CPEC routes to supply petroleum products and by offering KSA extended CPEC partnership that will deepen its regional sphere of engagement. Besides, multidimensional military cooperation over the years both states able to develop strong military nexus. KSA is the largest importer of Pakistani arms, weapons industry. Approximately 70000 Pakistani personnel serving in the KSA’s military. Furthermore, it also tends to purchase ballistic missiles from Pakistan. However, the paradigm shift in the regional geopolitical sphere has made the relations subtle and elusive, which needs to be addressed through mutual diplomatic efforts. From Pakistan’s perspective, key reformative policy measures can be opted to ensure the enduring and smooth trajectory of bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia. Over the past few years, the bilateral ties between the Pak-KSA preluded with skepticism and uncertainty, during the visit a joint declaration can be issue to clear the air, Islamabad needs to reassure the kingdom’s leadership that ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia remain firm despite Islamabad’s engagement with other Muslim countries. On the matter of Israel recognition, the state-level delegation should present a clear and staunch narrative based on the pronouncement of national interests. US-KSA holds strong multilateral ties, therefore it can be used as a reliable mediating option with the US to seek concessions over the FATF status. During the visit, the delegation must put the matter on the negotiation table. Pakistan can pursue collective endeavors over the growing islamophobia concerns worldwide through the conceivable engagement of further strengthening the OIC forum. To extend the regional posture, by pushing the peace agenda, Pakistan can offer a mediating role to defuse the escalating tensions between the Middle Eastern states. Another significant factor- Israel normalization drive in the Middle East is on the peak, Indian would pitch deceitful propaganda against Pakistan- KSA pressurizing Pakistan for Israel recognition through print, electronic and social media that needs to be neutralized proactively. Balancing between KSA-Iran is also another crucial aspect that seeks preferential treatment, the PM visit along with the key stakeholders of state may ring alarm bells to Tehran. Thus, Pakistan should take Iran in confidence covertly to ensure that bilateral ties between KSA-Pakistan will not the dynamics of relations between two neighbors. KSA can also assist Pakistan to highlight the Kashmir issue, hence it can be urged the KSA to give unconditional support over the narrative from different platforms. Since, Saudi Arabia largest importer of Pakistani arms, state officials’ visits must ensure the probability maximizations of the weapons exports to the KSA. Furthermore, through offering extended assistance in defense cooperation- military training programs, conducting joint exercises would further propel the bilateral ties. In the context of the Yemen and Syrian crisis, Pakistan should persist its non-interventionist approach. Followed by the Visit, efforts for KSA’s premier MBS visit to Pakistan can be contemplated that will allow to robust the bilateral ties and will alleviate the regional posture. To conclude, both states must look forward to bolstering the enduring constructive engagement and transcend it into an exemplary alliance enriched with positive-sum gains.

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