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Can Pakistan Really Afford To Annoy The Saudis?

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During the Ottoman Caliphate, the Sharif (Khadim Herman) of Makkah served as nominated Governor for the Ottoman Caliphate. Upon the orders of Lawrence of Arabia, he rebelled against the Ottoman Caliphate of Turkey at that time. Upon the realization by Ottomans that Sharif was getting out of control and will not allow to let them live with peace, they sent a message to take away few of the consecrate of our beloved Prophet (SAW) and went back. The Sharif’s lineage continues to rule under the name of Saudi Arabia. Nowadays, many questions have been raised upon the Sharifs of Makkah but it is important to narrate the historical facts before drawing any conclusions.

Historically, the first one to raise voice against the Sharifs of Makkah was Moulna Mohammad Ali Johar who confronted them physically and remarked them as drab and dreary (Kasab) and did not acknowledge them. After that, whenever Moulana Mohammad Ali Johar and Moulana Shaukat Ali went to Saudi Arabia, Sharifs never confronted them. It clearly portrayed the clout of Muslims outside the Arabian Peninsula. Despite the fact that Muslims of the Indian subcontinent at that time were living a subservient life under the British, that still managed to support the Arabs. But things changed in the twentieth century with the exploration of oil reservoirs that altogether changed the prevailing power equation of that time.

In the current scenario, after heightened tensions between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Saudi Arabia for dialogue and negotiations in mid-August. Ideally, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister, or the President of Pakistan should have dealt with this crisis. But they have perhaps been the part of the problem. Therefore, the COAS took the initiative to resolve the rising tensions. The visit got official approval on August 11, 2020 and the Kingdom didn’t give time for dialogue that easily. It indicated the severity of bilateral tensions. However, when our soldiers were entrapped in Kargil, the then High Command asked the Prime Minister of that time Nawaz Sharif to visit United States and find a way out. The Pakistan Prime Minister visited United States on July 4 and met with the US President on the Independence Day, which is a national holiday. The Prime Minister used his personal influence to get that meeting and succeeded.

Saudis have a good relationship with India and that has also irked Pakistan. Another amazing misperception is that the country will somehow emerge as the new leader of the Muslim world. Although, under the given scenario Pakistan is itself in a thick coup. The leader for Muslim world is not dependent on the strength of the armed forces, indeed it requires the strong economic, technological and financial backing that unfortunately Pakistan lacks even more than many developing countries.

It is evident that the political leadership seems unable to resolve the issues with Saudis.The army took the lead but even their intervention has not succeeded to restore the close relationship. Given the current economic situation, Pakistani labour employed in Saudia Arabia and the Gulf is at risk of losing jobs. The Saudis have many choices, Egypt, Sudan, Nepal to name a few. The lesson is clear: ministers and officials need to mindful while commenting on the friendly countries especially those we approach for bailouts.

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