Though it is a diplomatic cliché that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have again vowed to take bilateral ties to new heights under a strategic direction set by the top leadership of the two countries, the reality is that Saudi Arabia has been Pakistan’s friend, both economically and diplomatically, for decades. Similarly, Pakistan has always sided with the Kingdom often at the cost of its relations with countries like Iran, Turkey and Malaysia. Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Saudi Arabia to attend a summit on environment. The good news which later came out of the blue was the $3 billion deposits for Pakistan from Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom also extended the oil supplies to Pakistan on deferred payment. The announcement helped the Pakistani rupee recover the eroding grounds for a while. This is the second time the great friend has given bucks to improve Pakistan foreign exchange reserves.
Both countries are cementing their bilateral ties, since Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud’s tour to Pakistan in recent months. Pakistan needs an economic push from the KSA to bolster its beleaguered economy. Though both countries have set up the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council, co-chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan, the council has yet to come up with any landmark project in Pakistan. The council has been functional for the last three years. The KSA foreign minister was apprised of the aspirations of Islamabad regarding Saudi Arabian’s cooperation at the council front but any concrete development has yet to be seen. Economy has been the most dominating point during the meeting of two top leaders of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia but this is the time the economic ties must go beyond oil supplies from Saudi Arabia on deferred payments. The decade-old methods of ‘economic help’ aided Pakistan neither economically nor politically. Pakistan needs KSA investment in the country, the way the Kingdom has done in India.
In recent years, both countries experienced some cold patches in mutual ties, mainly on the issue of sending troops to Saudi Arabia for the Yemen war and later on when Turkey took a stand against the Kingdom in the murder of a Saudi national journalist in Turkey. Moreover, Iran becomes another stark point. The petro-rich country needs to understand Pakistan’s geostrategic and regional requirements. Pakistan cannot neglect Iran and Turkey; so is the case of Malaysia. Pakistan, however, always stands by Saudi Arabia on all international and regional forums.