General Raheel visit to Saudi Arabia : Impacts upon Pak-Saudi relations
The rise of pre dominantly Shia Huthis tribe, allegedly backed by Iranian regime in Yemen has altered the regional security scenario in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia feeling threatened by the Iranian involvement in its backyard retaliated with force.
An Arab alliance was formed in the region with the backing of Saudi Arabia’s old ally United States of America in order to flush out the Iranian sponsored militancy in Yemen . Saudi Arabia strategically could not afford to have Iranian backed government in Yemen as it was already trying to throw away the Asad regime in Syria, which was also sponsored by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The Arab Alliance under the leadership of Saudi Arabia started air strikes campaign against the Huthi rebels in Yemen in order to reinstall the exiled government of ex. President Hadi. The sir strikes were followed by the arrival of Saudi and allied ground troops although the strength was exactly unknown, However the ground sources confirmed the presence of Saudi Commandos on Yemeni soil.
Saudi Arabia in order to further muster support for its military alliance approached Pakistan with which it had traditionally enjoyed cordial and brotherly relations since the inception of Pakistan in 1947. Both the countries have helped each others through thick and thin, may it be Arab-Israel wars or the Indo-Pak wars and bilateral relations survived the test of time.
In the past Pakistan Army units have been deployed in Saudi Arabia during Iraq-Kuwait war and earlier when security and prestige of “Harmain Shariffain”, the two most Holy mosques for Muslims came under threat by armed militants.
The recent Middle Eastern conflict has brought a temporary bad taste between the two brotherly states. Saudi Arabia demanded from Pakistan to send its Armed Forces on ground in Yemen along with Saudi Forces to battle the Iranian backed Huthis in Yemen .
Pakistan owing to its own war on terror could not honour the pledge which created enmity in the bilateral relations, the situation was further worsened by the fierce and furious speeches of the Parliamentarians in National Assembly of Pakistan against Saudi radical and religious support to the sectarianism and Wahabi Salafi movements in Pakistan.
The relations went to an extent that UAE minister appeared in media and threatened Pakistan of the dire consequences of such refusal to the Saudi Arabia at this critical juncture. Although Pakistan had assured Saudi Arabia that any threat to sovereignty of the Kingdom or two Holy mosques would be handled with iron hands, the fences could not be mended and the sour patch continued.
Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif recent visit to Saudi Arabia is seen as an important Foreign Policy step boldly taken by the COAS in order to mend the bitter relations between the two brotherly states.
General Raheel Sharif met with Saudi King Suleman and the matters related to bilateral security were discussed in detail. Pakistan once again re affirmed its support to sovereignty and integrity of Saudi Arabaia and in return King Suleman reciprocated the same towards sovereignty of Pakistan.
Pakistan which is oftenly criticised for its alleged support to Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network and Lashkar e Taaiba was concerned and could not afford to lose all time brotherly state and a strategic ally.
The recent visit is also important in the aspect that Pakistan’s arch rival India which never leave any stone unturned in order to either defame Pakistan or adding fuel to the fire in case of any difficulty, approached Saudi Arabia and Gulf region countries to further isolate and corner Pakistan in the region.
Building up bridges between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia was an urgent task and need of the time, first to mend its fences with the brotherly state and importantly at the same time denying India any space to create any further misunderstanding and friction between Pakistan’s all time trusted ally.