Saudi royals decline defence pact proposed by Indian premier PM during Gulf states visit
Saudi Arabia has reassured Pakistan that it continues to be the country’s ‘brother-in-arms’ by denying a defence pact offered by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently, well placed diplomatic and defence sources have told Pakistan Today.
Amid speculations about the future of defence relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Bin Abdel Aziz, who is also the Saudi defence minister, conveyed to Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif that the Saudi government was committed to carrying out the defence pact with Pakistan.
Saudia is a strategic partner of Pakistan and a major financial contributor to the country’s nuclear armory. Even soon after the country’s nuclear tests in year 1998, Saudi Arabia had come forward for financial assistance while the world powers had imposed sanctions on Pakistan.
“During a telephonic conversation held last week between General Sharif and Prince Mohammad, the Saudi Arabian deputy crown prince rejected all the media hype created during the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” a well-placed source privy to the development told Pakistan Today.
Relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been at their lowest after Pakistani parliament refused to accept Riyadh’s request for Pakistani troops to be deployed in the holy land as part of a larger alliance against the Shia Houthis of Yemen.
Meanwhile, Indian premier Modi launched a diplomatic offensive to woo the Gulf states, and media hype was created to claim a strategic shift in India’s relations with Gulf states.
Media reports also claimed that Modi during his recent visit to the UAE had offered all Gulf states full defence cooperation, including the Yemen offensive.
Analysts believe that Modi, who is the first Indian PM in 34 years to visit UAE, was eyeing strategic alliance with the Gulf states, which have traditionally been Pakistan’s ally.
Reports in the international media said that some Indian fighter jets had landed at Taif airport to show New Delhi’s intentions of aiding the Saudi government in the war against Yemeni Houthis. However, diplomatic sources said that the Saudi royal family had chosen to stand by Pakistan in the evolving geo-strategic situation.
When contacted, no official from the Inter-Services Public Relations agreed to comment over the development.
However, a senior army official privy to the developments confirmed to Pakistan Today that the army chief had been conveyed a renewed pledge from Saudi Arabia to continue its defence cooperation with Pakistan.
“Prince Mohammad has conveyed to Pakistan that King Salman bin Abdel-Aziz has refused to accept any deal with India. Rather, the prince has said that relations with any country could not be build on preconditions,” the source added.
The source added that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also been communicated the same message by the Saudis.
“Yes, the government has been communicated that Saudi Arabia would not enter into any alliance with India at the cost of its relations with Pakistan,” a source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The source added that Pakistan would soon send some top officials to Saudi Arabia to reassure its pledge to the Royal family of Saudi Arabia.
SAUDIS PREFER PAK DUE TO INTERNAL THREATS: RIZVI
Noted defence analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said that the Saudis have taken a wise decision keeping in view the long-term scenario of the monarchy.
“The Saudis believe that despite a rare chill in relations with Pakistan, the long-term interests of the monarchy are with Pakistan. Pakistan has given a clear cut assurance to the Royal family that though it would not send its troops for Yemen war, it would send its forces in case of an internal conflict. Neither Indian not US forces would be allowed in Saudi Arabia in case of an internal conflict,” Rizvi said.