• Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Pakistan’s renewed relevance to Arab Gulf security

Discussion in 'Strategic & Foreign Affairs' started by Ocean, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. Ocean

    Ocean SENIOR MEMBER

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    Increasing cooperation. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz (C) and Pakistani Army chief General Raheel Sharif (L) review a guard of honour in Rawalpindi. (AFP)
    DUBAI - Pakistan and the Arab Gulf countries have long enjoyed close relations, underpinned by cultural affinities and a sense of shared destiny as Sunni Muslims. Pakistan remains a largely poor and underdeveloped country but with a population growing to more than 215 million, an advanced nuclear arsenal and powerful military, it is a country not easily ignored.

    The Arab Gulf, on the other hand, has at least one-third of proven global oil reserves, two of Islam’s most sacred sites and likely the keys to the Middle East’s future.

    Pakistan-Arab Gulf ties are largely based on unwritten rules. Strategic pacts, where they exist, do not delve into detail. For Pakistan, the Arab Gulf has been the only region of the world where it has enjoyed favour almost without question and, often, generous financial assistance. In return, Arab Gulf countries have maintained an expectation that Pakistan will lend its weight where and when their core interests are threatened.

    Perhaps the most successful Pakistan-Arab Gulf effort was, together with the Americans, in forcing the Soviet retreat of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Since then, Pakistani troops have manned Saudi borders with Iraq and its retired officers have helped quell unrest in Bahrain. Earlier, oil-rich Arabs provided different kinds of support to Pakistan’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Pakistan estimates it has trained some 10,000 servicemen from Saudi Arabia.

    Historically, the Pakistan-Arab Gulf relationship has indeed been special.

    Recently, the Pakistan Army announced it would send a 1,000-person contingent of trainers and advisers to Saudi Arabia, joining at least 1,600 Pakistani servicemen deployed there. The development follows the second visit in two months of General Qamar Bajwa, the Pakistan Army chief, to Saudi Arabia.

    As the Saudi-led intervention began in Yemen in 2015, Riyadh was upset by Pakistan’s reluctance to join the campaign. Pakistan instead offered itself as a mediator between Riyadh and Tehran, an offer that, as expected, garnered little interest.

    Pakistan did, however, reiterate a commitment to protecting Saudi territorial integrity and the security of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. Since then General Raheel Sharif, formerly Pakistan’s Army chief, has become commander of the Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition in Riyadh, one of King Salman’s most important initiatives.

    The Arab Gulf’s hastening courtship of rival India, the Saudi-Iranian cold war, the Saudi-led quartet’s boycott of Qatar and the Saudi-led intervention into Yemen have created new dynamics in Pakistan-Arab Gulf ties.

    Pakistan continues to seek a balance. The announcement from Pakistan came only after Bajwa took into confidence the envoys of Iran and Turkey and made a low-key visit to meet with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Three months ago, Bajwa became the first Pakistan Army chief to visit Iran in more than two decades, resulting in plans for deeper defence cooperation.

    Pakistan’s strategy to not take sides in the Middle East’s power competition while being attentive to important bilateral relationships has largely worked. To some extent, it may be Chinese influence rubbing off. Under the China-Pakistan economic corridor programme, China will invest as much as $62 billion in Pakistan. An estimated $27 billion in projects are under way or completed.

    In that context, deteriorating ties with India and a broken-again relationship with the United States provide no strategic rationale for Pakistan to change course.

    Pakistan will continue pursuing its Middle East interests as an outsider but anticipates its strategic influence to grow naturally. There has been speculation for many years that China was seeking a naval base on Pakistan’s southern coast to project power. Recent reports suggest China will develop its second overseas naval base at Jiwani, 80km from Gwadar port. A Chinese naval base in Jiwani could well be the closest China can get to the oil-rich Arab Gulf and for monitoring some of the world’s most important maritime trade routes for energy supplies.

    Pakistan remains as relevant as ever to Arab Gulf security but in a distinctly new emerging context.

    https://thearabweekly.com/pakistans-renewed-relevance-arab-gulf-security
     
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  2. Joe Shearer

    Joe Shearer PROFESSIONAL

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    If Iran seeks even greater control than exists today over her own proximity, and Saudi Arabia seeks to keep her influence at arms' length, there is potential for the existing clash to expand in scope.

    If Iran stays conservative and Saudi Arabia modernises, there is potential for sustained conflict.

    It will be difficult for Pakistan to keep away from either side. At the moment, the visits of her COAS to various centres of influence have successfully conveyed her positive feelings towards both sides, and her unwillingness to commit herself to either side has been accepted by both.

    What the future holds in case of an aggravation of the situation is something that nobody can predict.
     
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  3. SrNair

    SrNair ELITE MEMBER

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    You mean the Pakistan will drag if there is clash between KSA and Iran ?
     
  4. Joe Shearer

    Joe Shearer PROFESSIONAL

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    I think the KSA will expect them to get involved, and the IIR will expect them to stay neutral. I think they will stay neutral and that may complicate matters for them. Not as much as getting involved, but worse than the precarious balancing act of today.
     
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  5. SrNair

    SrNair ELITE MEMBER

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    But staying neutral might be good for them.
    Considering what happened in FATF due to KSA,Pakistan will met same fate again
     
  6. Joe Shearer

    Joe Shearer PROFESSIONAL

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    It's their outlook, there is little we can figure out looking at things from a distance. Let them think about it.
     
  7. SrNair

    SrNair ELITE MEMBER

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    Arabs are not appreciative about the contribution of Pakistanis.
    Recently I have seen a documentary regarding the 1979 fiasco in Holy mosque in KSA.Documentary only mentioned GIGN of France.No mention about Pakistan Commandos .
    As per our Pak friends here ,they were also participiated in ops
     
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  8. infinity73

    infinity73 FULL MEMBER

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    MBS is a hot head. He is aggressive but has managed to consolidatate his hold on power. How Yemen and Qatar fiascos will end or evolve is anybody's guess. His economic diversification plan has given hope to saudis and this buys him critical time to sort things out. But saudi economy is under pressure. People's resentment will grow because his vision 2030 is a long shot. In Syria, saudi proxies are down and out and they are yet to make a new move. But the most imortant thing is that there were statements from saudi officials few weeks ago implying they would soon launch an aggressive campaign against iran and hizbollah. We are yet to see how that materializes, but when it does Pakistan will have a tough time keeping a balance and could be forced by saudis to pick a side.
     
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  9. My-Analogous

    My-Analogous SENIOR MEMBER

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    And still zero help from Arab state to develop Pakistan more stronger, only KSA come to help in Pakistan crisis
     
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  10. Joe Shearer

    Joe Shearer PROFESSIONAL

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    ??

    Pakistan has received solid support from the UAE and Kuwait, so it seems to be that 'zero' help translates differently, from person to person.
     
  11. My-Analogous

    My-Analogous SENIOR MEMBER

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    Please tell us how many industries have been establish and what sort of investment they did in Pakistan? Our leaders are also involved in this crime
     
  12. Joe Shearer

    Joe Shearer PROFESSIONAL

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    I did not mean industrial cooperation; rather, it was military cooperation, in the form of using Pakistani personnel extensively for training and for supplementing Arab soldiers and airmen (as happened in different Arab countries' aerial combats with the IAF), in the form of tacit availability of Arab equipment for Pakistan as a supplement (as happened in 1965), in the form of extended participation by retired Pakistani military personnel in Arab military positions, primarily in training and in elite defence formations safeguarding the rulers of several Arab countries, and even in the form of deputing formations to serve in Arab countries, led by a Pakistani general officer (Jordan, Pakistani armoured brigade, Zia ul Haq, crackdown on Palestinians leading to the events of Black September), and it was political cooperation, maintaining a constant pressure on India, and supporting the Pakistani position on Kashmir.

    There was also industrial cooperation, but the details of those are not available in one place; it will take some effort to compile the data.
     
  13. Oscar

    Oscar ADVISORS

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    The country on the forefront in trying to delay Gwadar and sabotage it was not India, Iran or the Israelis.. it was the UAE.
     
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  14. Joe Shearer

    Joe Shearer PROFESSIONAL

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    True, but I was told that it is a secret known only to some Pakistanis outside the military, and not widely publicised, and that the delays to Gwadar are only the tip of the iceberg, that there have been other initiatives and clandestine actions in that region that are currently uniformly ascribed to India as a convenient outlet.

    It did not seem appropriate to mention these things, as they might be taken as a poisonous Indian attempt to turn opinion against the UAE. I was echoing what seems to be the official line; what one knows about a neighbouring country and what one says are two different things, especially when Pakistan is involved.

    I was also told, since several countries were named, that it was not the UAE alone, but in other contexts, another supposedly friendly neighbouring state as well, that has hegemonic thoughts about the region. Far more than India has, apparently, and with active involvement well beyond anything that India has dreamt of attempting. Again, an open secret, but not one that is discussed.

    I do not have any incentive to talk about these things. Here or elsewhere; it makes no difference, Indian fanboys will wallow in ecstasy, Pakistani fanboys will burst blood vessels in their rage; neither an attractive thought.
     
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  15. Oscar

    Oscar ADVISORS

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    The problem is having a myopic or limited spectrum view. Yes India is the mortal enemy and must be made to rue the day they picked the fight with us(or whatever one perceives)- but that does not mean India is the only adversary on the world stage or a foe at eveyr stage(although with the Bhaktars it seems it has chosen that path).
    Ab iisdem the mountain seas Chinese cut us off on many economic opportunities and fronts, the brince brothers of Saud work against us in many spheres, the Turks right now wont give us preferred gsp and so on.

    But you cannot expect many to understand such issues( even though they experience analogous dynamics in their family and extended family all the time.. aunts and uncles etc). Which is why while one hopes to have qualified people at the top; one cannot expect it to be among the common folk.
    Sadly, that does not seem to deter people from declaring sides and going emotional- after all when it comes to the internet your barrier for entry as an expert on transportation is holding a driver’s license.
     
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