New Delhi: – Indian and Saudi military will soon be holding joint exercises. Indian military contingent will be going to Saudi for the first-ever joint exercises with Saudi Arabia; the exercises will be held in the current fiscal. In December, Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane visited Saudi. The joint exercises being organised after the visit, have gained major strategic significance. Former Pakistan military officials and military analysts express a concern that the increasing Indian influence in Saudi and the other Middle Eastern countries is detrimental to Pakistan’s interests.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are investing heavily in India. There also is an Indian workforce in Saudi-UAE and other Middle Eastern countries. Pakistan has expressed concerns that India has also initiated steps to strengthen strategic cooperation with Saudi and UAE. The analysts from Pakistan are crying hoarse that the increasing Indian influence in Saudi-UAE is a failure of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Whereas, former Pakistani diplomats have blamed the failed foreign policy of the Imran Khan government.
The report of India-Saudi joint military exercises has been received against this background. Last year, in December, Indian Army Chief visited Saudi Arabia. He had visited the Saudi military headquarters. Clear indications emerged from this visit that the military cooperation between India and Saudi is poised to grow stronger. Nearly 20,000 Pakistani soldiers remain deployed in Saudi for the security of the country. Former Pakistan military officials express a concern that henceforth Saudi will not trust Pakistan to the same level.
Disturbed by the increasing Indian influence in Saudi, Pakistan had appointed former military official Bilal Akbar as the Ambassador to Saudi. It is claimed that Pakistan was forced to take this decision, as the diplomatic officials failed to maintain strong relations with Saudi. Whereas, some journalists have passed a verdict that even the Pakistan military will not be able to improve relations with Saudi. Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has hurt Saudi and UAE by increasing closeness with Turkey. Pakistan is taking these hits because of that. These journalists are pointing out that this was why both Saudi and UAE demand repayment of the loans they had given to Pakistan. In such circumstances, the strengthening Indian relations with Saudi and the joint military exercises between the two countries’ militaries underlines the increasing Indian influence in the Middle East.