After being constantly humiliated by Saudi Arabia for the past one and a half years, another setback has come for Pakistan as the de facto leader of the Arab world becomes the latest nation to not recognise Covid-19 vaccination certificates of China-made jabs, thus barring the Pakistanis from entering the middle-eastern country. Although Sinopharm and Sinovac have been granted emergency use authorization by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Saudi Arabia doesn’t trust Chinese vaccine which has been majorly imported by Pakistan to inoculate its population.
Fearing the worst for its economy that is heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid remarked that Prime Minister Imran Khan was actively looking into the matter and trying to convince his Arab masters.
“[The PM] has also told the cabinet that he is in touch with the (Middle Eastern) countries concerned in this regard. Sinopharm is a great vaccine and I salute the Chinese’ cooperation in this regard,” said Rashid.
Reported by TFI last month, just days after the return of PM Imran Khan from Saudi Arabia to reset the bilateral ties, the Kingdom had decided to restrict Pakistanis inoculated with the Chinese vaccine into mandatory quarantines. To make matters worse for Pakistanis, the Kingdom remarked that the cost of the mandatory quarantine will have to be borne by the travellers.
However, with the aforementioned announcement imposing a blanket ban on entry, the Pakistanis will at least be saved from dishing money for the quarantine camps.
Suspicion regarding the efficacy of the China-made vaccine continues to loom across the planet. After all, the authoritarian country under the rule of President Xi Jinping had hurried the vaccine-development process and started inoculating its population, as early as June-July, last year.
After the failed medical diplomatic offensive charm where Beijing supplied low-quality PPE’s, masks and other medical equipment to numerous countries in the hope of gaining positive PR — China’s already- dwindling reputation took a nosedive when it announced its vaccines.
China’s Centres for Disease Control in April itself remarked that the efficacy of Chinese coronavirus vaccines is “not high” as they may require improvements, as per ANI.
Ever since Imran Khan supported Turkey President Erdogan’s quest of becoming the leader of the Muslim Ummah thereby challenging the hegemony of Saudi Arabia, the bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Pakistan have been on a downward spiral.
Last year, when Saudi Arabia demanded Pakistan to pay its loan back, the latter took a loan of the same amount from China to return the loan granted by Saudi Arabia, thereby further plummeting Pakistan into the clutches of China. Amidst depleting bilateral relations, Saudi Arabia forced Pakistan to pay back $1 billion four months ahead of its repayment period, for which the latter comically took a loan of the same amount from China in order to pay back the Saudi Kingdom.
In November 2020, Pakistan sought a rollover of outstanding loans worth $4 billion from its erstwhile traditional allies Saudi Arabia and UAE as the country was crippled with dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
Saudi Arabia used to be the saviour of Pakistan but Imran Khan’s brain fade antics have pushed the kingdom far away and the repercussions are being felt by the ordinary Pakistanis.