Pakistan Runs From Pillar to Post

After being snubbed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan now seeks shelter in his old friend China

Recently, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s remarks against Saudi Arabia have drawn a lot of flak, within Pakistan and internationally. Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had brought disagreements between Riyadh and Islamabad out in the open by issuing an ultimatum demanding the Saudis call a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on the Kashmir issue. As soon as Pakistan realised what a grand mistake they had done, they set out their most trusted Knight to undo the effects of the last move and to prevent the game entering into a ‘check-mate’ scenario. Alas, the damage had been done. Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, last week had to visit Saudi Arabia in an effort to end the recent tiff between the partner countries. But this apology didn’t help, as Bajwa got a royal snub in Saudi kingdom. Gen Bajwa had to settle for a meeting with the Deputy Defence Minister and had to return home ‘empty-handed’ after being declined a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Pakistan depends on Saudi Arabia

Pakistan has been dependent on Saudi Arabia for years, seeking economic bailouts and jobs for unskilled workers whose remittances help Islamabad’s perennial balance of payments difficulties. But now, miffed Saudis have shook Islamabad by asking for the immediate return of short-term loans.

Pakistan nurses the grand delusion of being a self-proclaimed leader of Islamic countries only because it is a nuclear power. Pakistan believes it can mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, or can even smooth things up between the US and Iran, or end the war in Yemen. When you don’t have a penny in the pocket but you want to take up others’ causes instead of fixing your own house. How silly is that?

As Pakistan, which is constantly in a financial crisis, is dependent on Saudi Arabia, Qureshi should have been cautious of making any statements. It seems that his pressure on Saudi Arabia to call an OIC meeting came with a sense of sure-sightedness that they will be supported on the matter of Kashmir by all Islamic countries. It should not have been expected that as Saudi Arabia is a friend of Pakistan so it will automatically be against India’s stance on Kashmir.

Saudi Arabia befriends India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy has enhanced India’s diplomacy stature on global forums. His farsightedness has not only won several friends in the Islamic block, where Pakistan so far had a greater presence but has also increased its influence among Muslim countries through trade and strategic partnership.

Afterall, six Muslim countries have awarded their highest civilian award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2016, Saudi Arabia gave PM Modi its highest civilian honour King Abdulaziz Sash Award. UAE also honoured Prime Minister Modi with its highest civilian honour, Order of Zayed Award in 2019. This shows India’s growing stature in Islamic block. All these honours show Prime Minister Modi’s close relations with these Islamic countries.

On the contrary, Pakistan is being snubbed on international forum due to its anti-India narrative. As if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s refusal to meet Pak Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa wasn’t insulting enough, Pakistan was further humiliated when they were made to pay back USD 1 billion to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia even ended the contract to sell oil to Pakistan. The differences in their relations have clearly surfaced now which reflects the fact that Islamabad is gradually losing the support of other Muslim countries.

Pakistan Losing Support from Islamic countries

Recently in an interview, Imran Khan has said that “Our policy on Israel is clear: The Quaid-i-Azam (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) had said that Pakistan can never accept the state of Israel until the people of Palestine get rights and an independent state. If we recognise Israel and ignore tyranny faced by the Palestinians, we will have to give up Kashmir as well, and this we cannot do.” His remarks came in the backdrop of recent peace overtures between the UAE and Israel, with the former becoming only the third Arab nation to enter into a peace deal with the Jewish state. Saudi Arabia enjoys good relations with all other countries in the Arab League, incl UAE and 20 percent of the Muslim population of the world live in these Arab countries. So by saying that Pakistan opposes Israel, what they are basically trying to convey is that they are against every nation that is being friendly with Israel (read UAE and Saudi Arabia)

Having been snubbed by the Saudis and other Gulf countries, Pakistan has once again turned to its “all-weather” ally – China. However, China is just as much a global outcast, isolated and a rogue country as is Pakistan. And who was chosen to carry out this precious life-saving meeting with their saviour? None other than the much out-spoken Qureshi. Pakistan’s foreign minister reached Beijing for ‘strategic level’ discussions with his Chinese counterparts on Thursday, days after Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored that Pakistan’s future is connected with that of its long-time ally China.

And once again Pakistan was made to realise its standing when there was no one to receive or welcome FM Sm Qureshi on his arrival to Beijing. Must be a pretty hard fall for Pakistan, in these testing times, to be snubbed by another one it’s donor friends China, after Saudi Arabia!! Only time will tell what China can offer out of its own dead economy to lend Pakistan with a new life line!!

21 Aug 20/Friday                                                                                                   Source:  Saima Ibrahim