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Snubbed by Riyadh, Pakistan says its future ‘tied’ with Beijing

Updated August 19, 2020 21:22 IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud in Islamabad, last year (Xinhua/PID/IANS)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an interview to a private channel Tuesday, said that his country’s future is tied with China.

“China has stood by Pakistan in every good and bad time. We are further strengthening our ties with China. China also needs Pakistan very much. Unfortunately, the western countries are using India against China,” he said.

He also added that Covid-19 pandemic had delayed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan which should have otherwise happened in May.

Much has already been written about China’s strategic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the $60 billion pumped in by the Xi regime to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). That Pakistan’s future is wholly dependent on and not just “connected with China” is thus very much true.

That China needs Pakistan very much to fulfil its expansionist dreams is also quite correct because from Gilgit to Gwadar, the Chinese can be seen everywhere in Pakistan now. They are dominating the present day proceedings and will have virtually full control over the country’s future too.

However, “western countries using India against China” is indeed a laughable statement made by Khan. India’s future has never been dependent on any other country and nor has its foreign policy ever been dictated by foreign elements ever.

It is Pakistan’s foreign minister in fact who is going through really difficult times.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s warning to Saudi Arabia-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) earlier this month, has given Imran Khan a huge headache.

“I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris,” the foreign minister had said.

With an angry Saudi Arabia immediately turning off the oil and loan supply, Islamabad begged China for help and paid back $1 billion out of a $3 billion loan.

Realizing the huge damage Qureshi’s statement had done to its supposedly ‘long-standing’ friendship with the Arab nation and the major repercussions it would have diplomatically, economically and also militarily, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed then rushed to Riyadh

The top duo was snubbed by the Kingdom as they could just meet Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman on Monday.

Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Riyadh

It is thus not very surprising to see Imran Khan singing paeans to President Xi Jinping. Many believe that Turkey and China have provided the much-needed cushion cover to Pakistan for it to jump high and strong against Saudi Arabia.

“The Turkification of Pakistan even entered the realm of national identity, pseudo-science and mythology: for decades, Pakistanis have been taught, somewhat bizarrely, that they have Arab ancestry. Now, in place of that imaginary genealogy, there are now clear efforts to fabricate a Turkish lineage for Pakistan’s people. In China, where Islamabad has been increasingly putting all its proverbial eggs, Pakistan feels it has an economic lifeline. And it even has some leverage over the economic superpower: Beijing has no interest in jeopardizing its largest ever overseas investment, the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistan’s rulers are more than willing to pay the cost of that investment, in the shape of ripping the heart out of local industries, and formalizing of political totalitarianism,” writes Kunwar Khuldune Shahid in Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The world is watching the entire diplomatic drama unfold with Pakistan as the protagonist. However, even though the situation is fast slipping out of the hands of cricket World Cup-winning skipper, Khan wants everyone to believe that things are in control.

“The rumors that our relations with Saudi Arabia have soured are totally false. Our relations are very good. We are constantly in touch,” Khan said in the interview with the Dunya News television channel, yesterday.

It is also believed that the Saudi kingdom is unhappy with Pakistan’s growing closeness to Turkey and massive promotion of Diriliş: Ertugrul (Resurrection: Ertugrul), the Turkish drama series, on Pakistani national network.

Dirilis Ertugrul is based on stories of the 12th century Muslim Oghuz Turk, Ertugrul, whose son was the founder of the Ottoman Empire. Earlier this year, the Global Fatwa Index (GFI) of Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa, the country’s highest Islamic authority and one of the Muslim world’s oldest, had warned viewers to stay away from watching this series by issuing a fatwa (religious edict) saying it was a part of Erdogan’s plan to revive the Ottoman Empire.

Relations between Turkey and the Gulf States like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have been strained of late. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had, a few days ago, threatened to “suspend diplomatic relations” with the United Arab Emirates as it went ahead establishing relations with Israel.

No wonder, Pakistan, which finds itself sandwiched and is rightly paying a huge price for needlessly raking up Kashmir issue, has no option but to turn towards China for help and say that its future is tied with dragon.

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