‘Strike while the iron is hot’ – the phrase seems to be the motto of the Indian Army and the Union government as Army Chief General MM Naravane embarked upon a weeklong trip to UAE and Saudi Arabia to forge a deeper partnership, militarily, as well as politically, with the Arab states, that can effectively push Pakistan out of the picture. A first visit of sorts by an Indian Army General and the timing of the visit is noteworthy as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s armistice has nearly broken down due to the former’s love affair with Turkey and its constant childish efforts to undermine the authority of the de-facto leader of the Arab World.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence said Naravane’s trip was “historic in the sense that it will be the first time an Indian Army Chief is visiting the UAE and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” India has significantly deepened its engagement with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in recent years. During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2019, India and Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defence industries collaboration and an agreement on security cooperation. Both sides are also exploring the possibility of holding bilateral military exercises. And the visit of General Naravane is expected to sow seeds of a military alliance as well.
The Arab World’s affinity towards New Delhi has rattled Islamabad which has been receiving constant battering from the Muslim world for its infatuation with Turkey and the radical Muslim nations.
Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise the issue of Kashmir were dealt a huge blow when Saudi Arabia, owing to the increasing diplomatic and economic ties with India decided to sit this discussion out, much to the chagrin of Pakistan. Forget discussing the Kashmir issue, Saudi Arabia didn’t even allow the topic to become part of the OIC meet for a heartbeat. The Kingdom constantly maintained that Kashmir was India’s internal matter and therefore remained aloof of it.
Dejected by such a humiliating snub, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi went to a national TV channel and blasted Saudi Arabia for standing with India and ditching Pakistan.
After Qureshi’s brilliant decision of blackmailing the Saudis on live TV backfired, Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa rushed in to clean up the mess left behind by him. Bajwa instantly boarded a flight to Riyadh to placate the enraged Saudis and Crown Prince Mohammad in Salman. However, in a major embarrassment, Qamar Bajwa failed to secure a meeting with MBS and ultimately had to return empty-handed.
After trying to undermine Saudi Arabia and facing subsequent humiliation in OIC, Islamabad turned towards Turkey which dangled the carrot of Kashmir issue on its head as bait. Led by madman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey is looking to dismount the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Muslim World and in the process wants to crown itself as the Caliphate state, in front of which, the entire Muslim world should bow down to. However, Saudi Arabia has had enough of Ankara and it is Pakistan that is bearing the most of the brunt for it.
To pile on Pakistan’s misery, Saudi Arabia made Islamabad payback a part of its $3 billion loans signed during Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan. The latter was forced to pay back $1 billion four months ahead of its repayment period. Comically, Pakistan took a loan of $1 billion from China to payback the Saudis. Saudi Arabia is also demanding that Pakistan also pay back another $1 billion of the loan. The $3.2 billion oil credit facility extended to Pakistan has also expired with Riyadh paying no heed to Pakistani requests to extend the oil facility.
Pakistan has caused harm to itself by throttling the neck of Pak-Saudi relations. India and its Army Chief have merely been the facilitators who orchestrated the events around it. With Naravane’s historic visit currently in progress, it would be fair to say that an obituary has been written for Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations. It’s truly the end of an era and Islamabad has lost the tactical net it once had as support, in exchange for fickle allies like Turkey and China who would not waste a heartbeat, if and when it will come to ditching Pakistan for some better opportunities.