In modern times of human civilization, strong and trustworthy bilateral relations always brighten the chances of trade and commerce, foreign direct investments and strengthen cultural tries. This helps create an atmosphere of collaboration and harmony. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are more than strategic partners and more than brothers as said by King Abdul Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The sad demise of King Abdullah may have brought a glorious association to a natural setback, but the fact that the relations between both countries will continue to remain strong in the future era of the new King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
Since King Abdulaziz Al-Saud established the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, its transformation has been tremendous. The successive wise leadership has turned itself from a desert nation to a modern, dynamic state and one of the major players on the international stage. Its socio-economic revolution is unprecedented. Saudi Arabia was one of those first countries which recognised Pakistan after independence 1947. Whether it was wars of 1965, 1971 or sanctions after nuclear tests, Saudi Arabia came forward and helped Pakistan.
After the establishment of diplomatic ties, both the countries have enjoyed good relations which are not confined to political, economic, commercial, security and religious matters. Common faith and culture has further enhanced by close geographical proximity, historic trade ties, religious association and the economic facilitation. Both countries have developed trust-worthy relations based on mutual respect. More than 1.5 million Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia. In recent years, both countries have exchanged high-level delegations and developed plans to expand bilateral cooperation in trade, education, real estate, tourism, information technology, communications and agriculture.
Diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been strong, stable and sustainable since 1947. Saudi Arabia has been generous to Pakistan in many fields since then. Both countries are leading members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Saudi Arabia supported Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and encouraged both the countries to start Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). It openly opposed partition of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. Both the countries were at same wave-length at the time of Afghan War and remained closed allies fighting against communism during 1980s. During the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, Pakistan on request, sent troops to protect the Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia. Both the countries played important role in recognition of Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Pakistan offered its political, moral and diplomatic support on many regional Islamic and international issues.
Saudi Arabia came to our rescue even in May 1998 (series of nuclear explosions/tests) and promised to supply 50,000 barrels per day of free oil to help Pakistan cope with likely economic sanctions in the aftermath. Also, humanitarian assistance has been one of the key pillars of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Saudi Arabia extended its humanitarian assistance on many times of natural calamities in the country. In the times of natural crisis, Saudi Arabia stood first and donated generously
The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan is passionately facilitating many ongoing mega projects of education, health, housing, infrastructure, clean drinking water and electrification in different parts of the country. It has been helping Pakistan in obtaining fertilizers that may aid the agricultural activities in the country. Further, assistance would allow developmental projects to be initiated that would be instrumental in the socio-economic upgradation of the people. It aims to reduce high ratios of poverty. It would generate more employment in these troubled areas. It would support business activities in these areas and improve their living standards by providing better education, health and housing facilities.
Further, millions of dollars worth of loan has been provided to be spent for reconstruction in the Malakand Division, Bajaur Agency and North and South Waziristan. In this connection, the reconstruction activity, including repair of roads, would contribute to increasing agricultural productivity and enhance educational and health standards for the people of the region. Rehabilitation work includes construction of 283 KMS of major roads and 887 KMS of other roads along with 43 bridges and 78 culverts.
The last but not the least, the loan will also be used for construction of main and branch canals with flood protection work, water storage, supply of lift pumps, construction of educational facilities in South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Bajaur and rehabilitation of power network and transmission lines.
Right from the beginning, Saudi Arabia has been providing generous religious and educational aid to Pakistan, being a major contributor to the construction of mosques and religious schools across Pakistan. The Faisal Mosque (dedicated to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia) in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan was the prime example of Pak-Saudi cultural affinity. The major Pakistani city of former Lyallpur was also renamed Faisalabad in honour of King Faisal in 1977. Saudi Arabia remains a major destination for immigration amongst Pakistanis, the number of whom living in Saudi Arabia reached to 1.5 million.
Also, both the countries maintain close military ties. The government of Pakistan provided extensive support, arms and training to the military of Saudi Arabia. Pilots of the Pakistan Air Force flew aircraft of the Royal Saudi Air Force to deter a raid from South Yemen in 1969. In the 1970s and 1980s, approximately 15,000 Pakistani soldiers were stood tall in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia showed great interests to purchase of Pakistani ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have information mechanism on different subject relating to defense production, security apparatus and above all martial training etc.
During the talks between PM Nawaz Sharif and King Salman, situation in the Middle East and issues facing the Muslim world came under discussion. The Pakistani PM elaborated upon the measures being taken to tackle terrorism and militancy in Pakistan. Further, it was agreed that both nations have had cordial relations and that there was further need to strengthen the association byfocussing on the trade and economic ties. Also, that it was required to converge on matters of regional and international significance.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close relations which are marked by common perceptions on all issues of mutual interests. Both countries have sought to develop extensive commercial, cultural, religious and strategic relations. The rapidly changing geo-political and geo-strategic scenarios in the region and the Middle East demands greater levels of mutual cooperation and collaboration at all levels. The way forward between both the countries is to have joint security plan, cooperation in the energy sector, shared and comprehensive strategy against terrorism and extremism and most importantly, working towards creating an environment of peace in the region.