Pakistan’s Diplomatic Ties With The Gulf Countries – OpEd

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Pakistan and the UAE recently marked the 51st anniversary of diplomatic ties. To mark the occasion, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will pay a two-day official visit to the UAE on January 12-13, with an emphasis on strengthening economic, trade, and investment connections and expanding possibilities for Pakistani workers in the UAE.

The UAE and Pakistan have long-standing and exceptional connections. Six months before the UAE’s creation in June 1971, Pakistan was the first country to recognise it and dispatch its ambassador, Jamiluddin Hassan. Pakistanis regard the UAE as a second home, and vice versa. The two countries’ close geographical proximity provides an excellent chance for collaboration. Currently, over 1.6 million Pakistanis live in the UAE. At the end of 2022, Pakistan had the biggest volume of commerce in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) area, totaling US$10.6 billion. During the recent floods, the UAE remained one of the most helpful countries in providing humanitarian aid to flood-affected areas in Pakistan. The UAE built an air bridge to convey humanitarian aid to those affected by the record flood, and over 70 flights bringing relief materials were dispatched. Pakistan and the UAE are working closely together to launch a large renewable clean energy project in Pakistan. The vast diversity, scenic beauty, and, most significantly, the friendliness of the Pakistani people connect the two countries together. Both countries can profit from promoting one another’s culture, music, and art.

On the same day, COAS Gen Asim Munir finished his visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff, is on an official visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. During his week-long visit, the Army Chief met with senior authorities from both nations to discuss matters of common interest, military-to-military cooperation, and bilateral relations centred on security issues.

Warm bilateral ties have existed since 1947 and are founded on Islamic values as well as cultural and economic links. Both countries have succeeded in forging an incredible yet unique synergy for collaborative development.

In 1951, the Treaty of Friendship was signed. Since then, both countries have never looked back and have continued to expand on it by cooperating closely in areas such as politics, economy, security, and culture. As the protectors of the two holy mosques, the Royal Family occupies a special place in Pakistan. It goes without saying that our faith requires us to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the two holy mosques.

The Pakistan-Saudi partnership has become stronger in politico-economic realms, above persons and governments. Economic links forged as a result of this special relationship have pushed KSA to the status of Pakistan’s main oil supplier (by more than 50%). Following the nuclear tests in 1998, the KSA guaranteed an unfettered, cost-free supply of oil for four years. The Kingdom also delivered oil on a delayed payment basis for a full year in 2019-2020 and subsequent years.

Almost two million Pakistanis live in Saudi Arabia, where they send $6.5 billion in remittances each year. Around 15 million Pakistanis rely on the Pakistani diaspora working in Saudi Arabia.

The visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and COAS to Saudi Arabia and the UAE occurred at a critical juncture, with the hope that these high-level discussions will assist our economy get back on track. It is also worth noting that China’s outreach to the Gulf and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has heralded a new age of multilateralism: the CPEC project can help the Pakistan-China-Gulf countries triangle usher in this new era of strategic alliance. Pakistan also requires Saudi leverage in connection to the Taliban administration in Afghanistan in order to maintain an atmosphere of peace, prosperity, and shared growth.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s relationship and strategic collaboration have changed to meet the demands of the times; in the contemporary multi-alignment environment, no nation can conduct its foreign affairs in the global arena with a binary foreign policy. In the midst of a changing international and regional environment, states must safeguard their essential interests while enlisting the assistance of allies through a common aim.

Pakistan-Saudi ties are distinct and go beyond typical interstate connections. They are firmly founded and embedded in diverse dimensions of history, faith, security, economy, and a shared vision of growth and the pursuit of regional and world peace.

The author is Ph.D. Scholar (SPIR-QAU). Currently, she is working at Islamabad Policy Research Institution (IPRI) as Policy Researcher/Consultant. Her work has been published in local and International publications.

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