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EditorialRamifications of Saudi largesse

Ramifications of Saudi largesse

Amid economic chaos, Saudi government’s announcement to extend its deposit of three billion dollars to Pakistan is a ray of hope. The debilitating economic conditions were in dire need of such a financial support as Pakistan is now largely dependent on loans or aid due to debilitating foreign reserves. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy historical relations and both are interdependent on each other regarding various issues. Pakistan relies on the Saudi kingdom in terms of financial support in the form of soft loans and borrowing of oil. Moreover, the kingdom is also the largest source of foreign remittances for Pakistan. Due to the lack of economic opportunities back home, many Pakistanis travel to the kingdom to feed their families back in Pakistan. As such, a large number of Pakistanis have been a part of the workforce in Saudi Arabia. Reportedly, the Pakistani workforce contributes seven billion dollars, or a quarter of the country’s total annual remittances. While Saudi Arabia has been helpful in abating Pakistan’s economic woes, the latter has also been instrumental in providing military support to the former to help fight militant groups, especially the Islamic State. Besides, the kingdom is entangled in various regional issues like the Yemen conflict, a ‘proxy war’ with Iran and the ‘threat’ of the foreign militants. These issues prompt Saudi Arabia to garner regional support and Islamabad is one of the key allies of Riyadh. Although, a spirit of friendship, alliance and mutual cooperation do exist between the two brotherly states, yet the relations are also based on mutual interests. Currently, the Saudi government’s decision to extend the deposit has given some hope and provided some relief to the federal government in Islamabad. Surely, the bail-out was inevitable for Pakistan’s economic survival, but the ‘terms and conditions’ for this Saudi generosity have not been revealed, which necessitate a policy review by Pakistan while taking any loans from any state.

When a country receives aid or foreign loan, its sovereignty is also compromised to some extend besides; it also affects policy decisions on regional issues. Despite historical relations, any financial support from the Arab kingdom does not come without certain demands and conditions. Pakistan had already played the role of a ‘mercenary’ for Saudi Arabia in the past and it is once again getting entangled in the same net. It is high time for the government to shun the ‘politics of compromise’ and tell ‘truth’ to the nation. Any bilateral cooperation should be based on equality and self-respect. On its part, Pakistan has often assured that any threat to the kingdom’s territorial integrity will be strongly opposed. The dilemma that Pakistan faces is that the government of Pakistan and its leadership specifically, are beholden to the Saudi rulers in many ways, making it difficult to distance the country from regional issues. If it plumps on the side of Saudi Arabia, it runs the risk of being embroiled in a series of regional conflicts. So far Pakistan’s government has adopted a prudent stance, where while ensuring its commitment to the sovereignty of the Arab kingdom, it has continued to maintain a neutral stance. This is perhaps the wisest course of action, and Pakistan must stay the course while receiving any support from the kingdom.

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