Pak-Saudi Strategic Partnership


Saudi Arabia needs Pakistan to contain the Iranian influence in the region; and while Iran has continued to get closer to India and had offered India, the Iranian port and access to Afghanistan via Chabahar, Pakistan had watched nervously.

Strategic Partnership, Pak-Saudi Relationship, Raheel Sahreef, Riyadh, COAS,

The Saudi-Pakistan strategic partnership is not new but deep rooted and historic. Following the departure of the military ruler Musharraf and the coming of the PPP in power, it reached an all-time low. But as soon as Nawaz Sharif came to power, his first goal was to mend the strained relationship with one of Pakistan’s trusted key allies, which has been a major donor in times of crisis in Pakistan. Following the first high level visit in six years by the Saudi Foreign Minister last month, it was a signal that the relationship is warming up. Saudi Arabia needs Pakistan to contain the Iranian influence in the region; and while Iran has continued to get closer to India and had offered India, the Iranian port and access to Afghanistan via Chabahar, Pakistan had watched nervously.

Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the USA also appears to be strained, particularly in connection with Syria. The USA has been hesitant to act on Syria, which has forced the Saudis look to the east at their old allies. The Syrian conflict is spreading fast, and with several factions like ISIL, Al-Nusra, the Iranian backed Assad regime, and the Qatari and Turkey backed rebels all fighting each other, the Saudi borders are under a grave threat. Saudi Arabia fears that fighters from Syria can enter Saudi Arabia to destabilize the kingdom and, in particular, sacrilege the religious sites. Pakistani troops have served long in the kingdom, since the early 70s. Having a large Pakistani force inside the kingdom for internal security is less controversial, since Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are both Muslim countries with the same ideology. Also, having Pakistan as a partner can boost the Saudi outreach in the Muslim world.

Raheel Sharif, the new Pak Army Chief is on a three day visit to Saudi Arabia. This is his first foreign trip after taking charge of the Army Chief Office. Analysts and rival states like Iran are watching this development closely as to what the Pakistani Chief will offer during this visit. Some say that it is a routine trip, while others predict that this trip took place after the Saudis have shown interest to purchase JF17 (Pak-China joint fighter plane), along with technology transfer to Saudi Arabia. We expect some defense agreements to be signed for training and security cooperation during his visit to the kingdom.

The Saudi Crown Prince will be in Pakistan from the 15th to the 17th of February, and he will be visiting key defense installations and signing some agreements. Also, the Interior Minister’s visit was due in late January, but was postponed due to some urgent work. All these high level visits point to a warming relationship between the two countries and some kind of defense mechanism in the making which will be revealed in the coming months.

Sheikh Fahad is a business review lead analyst for magazine Stratagem. His area of expertise is current affairs of the Middle East, analysis of economic activities in the region and specializes in oil and gas related consultancy.

Discussion11 Comments

  1. As I have always said, Iran is not a treat to US or Israel. It is just a propaganda. In fact, Iran has close ties with Israel and US, because inside Iran many Jews live who need security from Iranian Govt. Plus, in last 1000 (thousand) years, Iran was never invaded from Western powers. If US or Israel do something, jews security inside iran can be a compromised from iranian govt. which cannot be acceptable to israel. So, giving a port to india (i think from US request) is an obvious thing, but a problem for Pakistan. But I guess no need to worry, afghan talbn can handle since the road from iranian port will go through afghan talbn strong hold area, to reach to kabul.

    • In addition, shiits sect from iran can be used against sunnni sect. (which has already started) and which is an ultimate goal of western powers.

  2. Saudi + Pakistan = Ally due to Sunni Islam (Anti Iran)
    Pakistan + China = Ally due to common foe India (chor-chor mausere bhai)
    China + Saudi = Ally for being non-democratic. (Uighur muslims?)

    Saudi+Pak+China nexus will be more on negatives than positives.

    Pakistan should not consider Afghanistan as its servant nation and must respect its sovereignty. Iran is Afghan’s neighbour so why worry when it gets another sea route other than Pakistan? India’s relations with Iran and Afghan are based on positivity and mutual respect and trust. India did not let herself be used by US against Iran. Coming together only for military and economic aid can not be a basis for long lasting relationship.

  3. “…The Saudi Crown Prince will be in Pakistan from the 15th to the 17th of February, and he will be visiting key defense installations and signing some agreements. Also, the Interior Minister’s visit was due in late January, but was postponed due to some urgent work…”

    The Interior Minister NEVER VISITED as planned. There is NO GUARANTEE that the CROWN PRINCE will visit as planned (HE IS YET TO VISIT). Here we have an empty-article emphasizing on a NON-EVENT!

  4. Aseem,

    What has India done for Afghanistan?

    Did you not support the Soviet massacre and rape if Afghanistan.
    Did you not use it to covertly bomb Karachi and Peshawar.
    Did you not use it to occupy Siachen.

    Did you not support the Pashtun continued massacres under The Northern Alliance,

    You set up consulates across the Pak and Afghan birders in the US invasion for what purpose. There us zero tangible visible constructive development by India inside Afghanistan other than marketing.

    Pakistan and Afghanistan are enjoined through blood, history and geography and share the good and the bad times so please don’ t try to play a positive Indian role.

    Do you know who the Rigi brothers were, well they were the heads if Jundullah and responsible for terror inside Iran. They were caught thanks to Pakistan on route to UAE by Iran after they left Afghanistan meeting India and ISAF.

    So please enough if your life.

    Pakistan’s relationship with the Muslim world is not artificial like India’s but one if commonality and a shared destiny. I agree Saudi and Iran are both good for Pakistan and Pakistan needs to stay neutral of any game playing “unless” it is a threat to the 2 holy sites.

    To Indians who feel they are welcome in Afghanistan go and visit Afghanistan or replace American boots with Indian bits.

  5. Please dont talk of any threat to the holy sites. they are and will remain safe till Qayamat. insha allah.

    Regarding what India is doing for Afghanistan… please go there and see or ask an afghan. India is building roads, hospitals, water reservoirs that will help common afghans. India is giving scholarships to afghan students so that they can compete with the world. India is training afghan army officers so that there could be a national army of afghanistan to help it sustain its sovereignty. India could have done more if India could get direct access to Afghanistan. All India want is peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and nothing in return. Indians can never forget the afghan Sher Shah Suri who in just 4 years of his rule did so much for Indian people and indian administrative system. The great moghuls who made india their home also came from near Afghanistan. India looks at Afghanistan as one nation and not as a pakhtun, tajik or ujbek groups. thats the difference between India and Pakistan how they treat afghanistan.

    Reg Rigi brothers, Iran had accused them of their links with Al Qaida and Pakistan. Later, they were supported by US. Pakistan helped their arrest by Iran because they were Baloch. India has nothing to do with such people.

    Pakistan does not share good and bad times with Afghanistan, its rather opposite, when Afghanistan sufferred under Talibans, Pakistan had good times. Now Afghanistan is going through a positive change, Pakistan has all the bad things to say about it. I, personally, dont think India would like to get into American role in Afghan. We got a window of 10 years and we did our best for them what we could. If Afghan people would like the relations to continue, we are always ready to go an extra mile.

  6. Regarding Indias relations with Pashtuns are concerned, there is a history behind it. India has given its highest civilian award “BHARAT RATNA” to a great Pashtun leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of NWFP, who was a leader of the Indian independence movement and active supporter of the Indian National Congress. Although the NWFP became part of the Muslim state of Pakistan in 1947, active Pashtun support for the Indian freedom struggle led to great sympathy in India for the cause of Pashtun autonomy and freedom. The Indian government continued to support Pashtun leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in lobbying for greater Pashtun freedom in the NWFP.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai is also a Pashtun and there are many other Pashtun leaders who share a great rapport with India. Its only Talibans that dont support India. Your talk of brotherhood with afghans is casteist and sectarian as you dont share the same feelings for tajik and ujbek afghans despite their being muslims.

  7. Alansaralhaq pakistan require to stop support terrorism or it is the time near when world will declare pakistan as terrorist country giving the training to terrorists.American army already killing pakistanis in pakistan only.Like british time is near america will rule pakistan.

  8. Alansaralhaq & Aseem,

    You both seems to be the most stupid persons from both of the sides. You both don’t know anything about the history nor pushtunism. so pls. stop talking this rubbish you fools

    • The one who gets into 2 stupid people is more stupid than the 2. Pashtuns were part of Indian before 1947 and supported India’s freedom struggle. This is a fact. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan was given highest Indian civilian award “Bharat Ratna”. This is also a fact. Many pashtuns want to be autonomous and many pashtuns are talibans and most leaders in Afghan including Karzai, Dr. Abdullah, Ashraf Ghani etc. are Pashtuns… all these are facts too.
      If you have any other facts,, you are welcome.

  9. The author most be very unoriented. What has Saudi Arabia ever done good for peace at all? The Al Saud regime is very well known for supporting extreme Takfiri fanatics in both Syria, Lebanon, Iraq & Pakistan. They also helped to oust the democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi of Egypt. Saudi Arabia also assisted the secterian regime of Bahrain to crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protestors. The author claims Iran is the bad guy, but they have never attacked or invaded any country for over 200 years. I would actually encourage Pakistan to enhance the ties with Iran instead of Saudi Arabia, who in fact is Dictatorship and who most lately has talked warmly about the Zionist Regime (Israel). The Israel-Saudi relation is also called An Unholy Alliance. I don’t know what an other user here on the site wrote that Iran is a friend Israel. That is ridicolous. Also here in the end I would also encourage Pakistanis to protest against the Saudi Crown Prince visit to Pakistan this weekend.

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