Saudi shuts doors on Pakistan for loans and oil; Pak military chief to visit Saudi Arabia

Islamabad: – Saudi Arabia has asserted that henceforth, Pakistan will neither get any loans nor fuel. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had threatened Saudi Arabia over not convening a meeting of the OIC over the Kashmir issue. Looking at the reactions of Saudi Arabia, it is clear that the relations between the two countries have been severely strained. Pakistan military chief met Nawaf Saeed Al Malki, the Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan. But apparently, nothing was achieved in this meeting. Therefore, it is being reported that the Pakistan military chief is planning a Saudi visit.

Saudi-Pakistan Pakistan is repeatedly demanding that a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) should be convened over the Kashmir issue. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi threatened, ‘But if that is not the case, Pakistan will be forced to convene a meeting of the Islamic countries standing with it on the Kashmir issue.’ Reminding that Pakistan did not participate in the Kuala Lumpur meeting at the behest of Saudi Arabia, Qureshi said that now Pakistan can expect reciprocal cooperation from Saudi. Qureshi issued an indirect threat to Saudi Arabia, the President of the OIC, that if a meeting is not convened over the Kashmir issue, Pakistan will form a separate organisation creating a divide in the OIC.

Strong reactions are being received from Saudi Arabia following the Pakistani threat. The bilateral oil cooperation existing for many decades is under threat. This is clear from the statements issued by Saudi Arabia. Only last week, Saudi demanded repayment of the loan given to Pakistan. Pakistan somehow managed to repay the amount by borrowing funds from China. Pakistan expected that the chapter would be closed with this. But Saudi discontinued Pakistan’s credit for the supply of crude oil after this. It is being reported that Saudi has made it clear that henceforth, Pakistan will not be able to avail any loans from Saudi, and Saudi will not supply any oil to Pakistan. These reports have been flashed in the Pakistan media.

Pakistan economy is in a very perilous state. The possibility of getting new loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is very slim. IMF has not issued any new loans to any country in the last five months. In this scenario, Saudi is demanding repayment of its loans from Pakistan. This has put Pakistan in a quandary. Pakistan fears that if the loans are not repaid, Saudi will expel thousands of Pakistanis employed in Saudi and the strain that will create on the Pakistan economy will take the economy to the rock bottom. Moreover, Saudi has also stopped the crude oil supply to Pakistan.

Therefore, Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi is facing a lot of flak. Accusations are rife in Pakistan that Qureshi has made a huge political and strategic blunder by hurting Saudi Arabia, an all-weather friend of Pakistan. Qureshi is avoiding to come forward in view of the offensive launched by the opposition parties and the embarrassment of answering any queries from the media on the subject. His press conference has been cancelled twice in three days.

Pakistan had attempted to make an independent group along with Turkey and Malaysia. Saudi Arabia had expressed its displeasure to Pakistan regarding the group led by Turkey. Thereafter, Pakistan had abstained from the group’s meetings. Also, the Malaysian policies have changed after the Mahathir government was replaced with a new government. Therefore, this group challenging Saudi influence automatically disintegrated.

As per analysts, Saudi is infuriated after receiving similar indications, once again, from Pakistan. According to some of the analysts, Pakistan is showing this courage to hurt Saudi based on Chinese backing. There were differences between Saudi and Pakistan over Iran and Kashmir issues. Analysts are saying that this Saudi reaction is more because of the increased Pakistani disposition towards Turkey.

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