Sheikh Manzoor Ahmad- India
Bonhomie between India and Saudi Arabia has been a cause of concern for Pakistan as its political leadership and military establishment fear losing their close ally and partner. India and Saudi Arabia have become new partners in fight against terrorism in all its manifestations and forms. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also clandestinely joined this strategic partnership which is aimed at eliminating and uprooting terrorism in South Asia, Middle East and especially the Gulf region.
The Saudi Kingdom has been a close associate of Pakistan for decades and had always come to its rescue whenever Pakistan faced economic crisis or political upheavals. Even in proxy war against the Soviet Union to dislodge it from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia worked in tandem with the United States and other western powers. While Saudi Arabia extended financial support to the Mujahedeen and Pakistan provided them bases to launch war against the Soviets. Finally The Soviet Union had to pull out its troops in early 90s.The 11 year war also cost the communist regime dearly as it got fragmented into fifteen new countries. The Saudis and other Gulf nations continued its support to the Talibans till 2001 until U S troops dislodged it for supporting and sheltering al-Qaeda, responsible for terror attack on twin towers of New York.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s landmark visit to Saudi Arabia early this month sent jitters to the Pakistani establishment and sounded alarm bells to Islamabad even as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel el Jubair made it clear that relations with Pakistan do not come at the expense of ties with India. He described India as a strategic Partner and Pakistan historical ally and brother. Warmth in India-Saudi relations was in display during PM Modi’s visit to the Kingdom in the first week of this month.
On the issue of terrorism, the UAE is also distancing itself from Pakistan and the Emirates has taken number of steps to rein in Pakistan based terror groups. It had already banned Jaish- e-Mohammed, which has accepted responsibility for Pathankot air base terror attack in India.
What worries Islamabad most is that India and Saudi Arabia have adopted joint strategy to tackle menace of terrorism. While Pakistan succeeded in blocking U N resolution- with the help of China- on designating Jaish founder Maulana Masood Azhar as an international terrorist. Saudi Arabia has gone ahead and blacklisted many firm and individuals having links with terror and extremist groups in Pakistan. Saudi Arabia is also firm on the issue of terrorism, firmly stating that there should no discrimination between good and bad terrorists.
Conferring PM Modi with highest civilian award of Saudi Arabia has also not gone well with the Pakistani authorities. Joint strategy unveiled by the two countries on terrorism indirectly indicted Pakistan for promoting and providing sanctuary to terrorists. Saudi Arabia later clarified that it was aimed at Iran; While India insisted that focus was on Pakistan which is patronizing many terror groups and encouraging them to indulge in terror activities in India.
Modi received unprecedented welcome in Riyadh and was the only head of the state that was given permission to address all women IT professionals at a Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) office, a rare honor shown to any worldleader by the Saudi rulers. Modi ‘s visit to kingdom from April 2 to 4 assumed significance with both countries pledging to uproot the phenomenon of terrorismm, irrespective of who the perpetrators were and of their motives.
India and Saudi Arabia are closely cooperating with each other on the security related matters for the past several years. In fact Saudi authorities handed over many suspected terrorists to Indian intelligence agencies who were allegedly involved in various terror acts. Saudi Arabia was also upset with Pakistan as it refused to send troops to Yemen to help it fight against Houthis and militias of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Similarly on Iranian issue, Saudis were upset with Pakistan's stand. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif offered to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia to end the stalemate. Pakistan is trying to adopt a balanced policy with Iran as its Islamabad close neighbour.
Moreover, it appears that now Gulf nations are not amused by Pakistan's approach on terrorism.They called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries. Dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they happened to exist and to cut off all kind of support and financing to the terrorists operating from their territory against other states and bring perpetrators to justice.
Besides Saudi Arabia, India is cultivating strategic ties with the UAE and forging strong ties with the other gulf nations, not only in the fields of hydrocarbon and other sectors, but also in fighting extremism and terrorism. While South Asia is facing threat from Taliban, Lashker-e-Toiba and other extremist groups, The Middle East is facing the terror from Daesh, al-Qaeda and several other terror outfits.
Recently PM Modi broke protocol to personally welcome Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi on his visit to India. The two countries pledged to work together in various sectors. Modi government’s proactive gulf diplomacy is definitely going to help India in waning Pakistan's influence in the region.