Pakistan’s ties to the Arab world are under strain, expert says



ANI |
Updated:
August 17, 2020 9:45 PM IST

New Delhi [India]August 17 (ANI): Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Chief Gen. Faiz Hameed arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday amid strained ties between the two countries. . Experts believe that the loss of the Saudi crutch will undoubtedly add to Pakistan’s fiscal concerns in the coming days.
Riyadh is upset by criticism from Pakistan that Saudi Arabia has been lukewarm on the Kashmir issue.
Dr Ashok Behuria, Principal Investigator and Coordinator of the South Asia Center MP-IDSA said: “Pakistan’s disillusionment with Arab countries appears complete as Pakistani media commentators continue to urge the leaders of the countries Islamists to support Pakistan. Support from the Arab world has waned. However, the loss of the Saudi crutch is sure to add to Pakistan’s fiscal concerns in the days ahead. “
On the first anniversary of India’s repeal of Article 370, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi criticized Saudi Arabia in a television interview for failing to compel Pakistan on the issue of ‘organizing’ a meeting of the Council of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir in early February 2020.
Qureshi had stated in his interview with a television channel that unless the OIC called a meeting of the CFM on Kashmir, Pakistan would be “forced to call a meeting of Islamic countries that are willing to support him on the issue of Kashmir and support to the oppressed Muslims of Kashmir. “.
He let himself be carried away by emotions to cross the line when he said: “Today Pakistanis, who are always ready to sacrifice their lives for Mecca and Medina, need Saudi Arabia to play a leading role on the Kashmir issue. If not. they are willing to play that role, then I will ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to move forward with or without Saudi Arabia. “
Saudi Arabia wasn’t the only country Qureshi was upset with. He also expressed his dismay with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for not supporting Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan’s expression of dismay is significant. Last year, Pakistan skipped the Kuala Lumpur Summit of Islamic Countries, which was attended by, among others, the Emir of Qatar, Turkish President Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Turkey was the first to note that Pakistan had done so under Saudi pressure. Turkish official media reported that the Saudis had threatened Pakistan to return 4 million Pakistani workers and replace them with Bangladeshis. However, officially, Pakistan had stated that it would take time to address the “concerns of major Muslim countries regarding a possible split in the Ummah” and that it would continue to work for the “unity of the Ummah”.
Dr Behuria said: “It was irony that once it proclaimed itself the defender of ‘unity’, Pakistan now threatens to divide the Ummah on the issue of Kashmir! It betrays a sense of frustration and despair by Islamabad for failing to muster critical international support for its agenda. What must have further irritated Pakistan, perhaps, was Saudi Arabia’s decision to quietly halt deferred oil supplies since May 2020 “.
Saudi Arabia had come to Pakistan’s rescue in 2018 when it agreed to provide $ 3.2 billion worth of oil in deferred payments per year as part of its $ 6.2 billion package to help Pakistan overcome its balance of payments crisis.
The balance of $ 3 billion was provided as a cash loan. The Saudis had activated the deferred payment facility for three years as of July 1, 2019, and the agreement signed in May was renewed this year.
However, the Saudis, visibly upset by Pakistan’s behavior, may have discontinued the deal. Among other things, Pakistan’s lean towards Turkey, Malaysia and Iran, as well as its increasing economic and strategic dependence on China, could have upset the Saudis.
Saudi retribution has followed Qureshi’s bravado. Pakistan was reportedly asked to repay the loan and Pakistan has reportedly already repaid $ 1 billion by borrowing from China at a lower interest rate. Pakistan was reportedly paying 3.2 percent interest on the loan and has now arranged a $ 1 billion loan from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) of China at the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR). ) plus 1 percent, which at current rates is around 1.18 percent.
Pakistan may have to arrange similar easy loans to pay the remaining $ 2 billion to Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan’s other benefactor, the United Arab Emirates, has also reneged on its promise to help Pakistan financially. In December 2018, following the example of Saudi Arabia, it had announced a $ 6.2 billion package for Pakistan that included a $ 3.2 billion oil facility. However, later, he reduced his financial assistance to $ 2 billion and the deferred payment plan was abandoned. (AND ME)

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