IRSEA highly appreciates the special contribution of Khalid Taimur Akram, Executive Director, Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future, Communication University of China, Beijing, and Honorary Member of IRSEA. In his article, the scholar analyses the current state of affairs along with the historical evolution of the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations, in accordance with the context and the multiple common features between the two countries. In a stimulating and highly-engaging op-ed, Khalid Akram delivers an insightful review of the present Pakistan-Saudi Arabia ties.
Mr. Khalid Taimur Akram
Honorary Member of the Romanian Institute for Europe-Asia Studies (IRSEA)
In international diplomacy, it has been generally accepted that certain ‘norms’ serve as the driving force for regulating international relations and alliances. The concepts of a state’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability have been present for centuries.
The modern states have supreme and exclusive sovereignty vis-à-vis these affairs. Nevertheless, there is no strict regime or regulatory authority to ascertain the execution of bilateral and multilateral agreements between States based on these principles.
The multi-national alliances formed within the realm of global relations are structured and protected under the provisions of international law. Thus, it is imperative to highlight the alliances of the Gulf region to understand the efforts for the formation of broader regional cooperation, i.e., with Pakistan. For many decades, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have remained the most politically active countries in the Muslim world.
The changing dynamics of regional affairs and the shared identity of a nation formed by an Islamic character resulted in a primary base to accelerate both nations’ relationships. Undoubtedly, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy warm relations rooted in the centuries-old religious, cultural, and commercial links.
The partnership under the visionary leaderships of both countries has grown over time and has remained one of the strongest alliances in the Islamic world. It was rightly defined by the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as ‘brothers’. The intent to further strengthen the engagement is evident in the exceptional contemporary tenure of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Muhammad bin Salman al Saud.
Many vibrant and transactional features have marked Pakistan’s friendly relations with Saudi Arabia. The most prominent features are economic and strategic ones. Moreover, there is also a qualitative dimension of the relationship between both Islamic states. Pakistan always has valued its diplomatic, strategic, and economic ties with other Islamic countries, especially in the Middle East and Gulf region.
Pakistan is the home of the world’s second-largest Muslim population. A nuclear-armed and strategically strong nation is promoting peace and cooperation among Muslim countries. Therefore, Saudi Arabia is fundamentally associated with Pakistan in many dimensions. Both countries are all-weather friends.
Saudi - Pakistan Economic Cooperation
Since the 1970s, economic alignments between both states have exceptionally benefited them. The Kingdom has assisted Pakistan with significant investment and financial assistance. Moreover, Pakistan has been collaborating in the security paradigm with Saudi Arabia and has pursued soft power diplomacy policy vis-à-vis promoting peace.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest exporter of oil and petroleum products to Pakistan. For Pakistani goods and services, the Saudi market is one of the important markets. Pakistan’s exports to Saudi Arabia have increased in recent times. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, Pakistan’s exports to the Saudi Kingdom saw a major rise of almost 34%.
The substantial dynamics of strategic and security partnership clearly manifest that Saudi Arabia has been maintaining a deep strategic relationship with Pakistan. Defense cooperation is another important element in strengthening bilateral ties.Being a nuclear power, Pakistan has been seen as a powerful partner to address the strategic concerns of Saudi Arabia. The joint military drills and activities have paved the way for future cooperation in this domain.
Under the dynamic leadership of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, the bilateral relationship has transformed into a deep, diverse, and mutually beneficial partnership. In this regard, Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030 provides immense opportunities for both states to cooperate with a shared forward-looking spirit
Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia: Prospects for Pak-Saudi Joint Cooperation
The Saudi Government has taken well-structured policy ramifications to modernize its internal structure and play an active role in the international arena. Therefore, the Kingdom has introduced the grand vision of 2030 for inclusive socio-economic and security development. This includes three broader pillars for Saudi Arabia, i.e., avibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation. Vision 2030 is an umbrella approach that provide many opportunities for other states. For example; defence and security sectors.
Greater transformation through strengthening defence cooperation will pave the way toward a win-win situation along with productive outcomes. Expansion in defense cooperation, including the military training programs, defense skilled labor exchanges, information sharing, technological assistance, defense import/export, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), will give new impetus to Islamabad-Riyadh ties.
The brotherly relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan has been strengthened by diplomatic and political leaderships. The historical partnership, a forward-looking spirit, peaceful initiatives, and cooperation in a vast range of fields have resulted in a win-win situation.
It can be anticipated that all areas, including trade, economics, investment, energy, energy, defense cooperation, the welfare of the overseas Pakistani diaspora, and job opportunities, would reinvigorate existing exceptional bilateral relations between both countries. Furthermore, the positive role of Pakistan and the Kingdom in resolving the issues faced by the Islamic nation would also contribute in strengthening Muslim alliances and global peace.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or view of IRSEA.