There has never been a Saudi visit to Pakistan like the one that took place last week – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s two-day historic visit to the country during which he held most fruitful and productive talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The atmosphere was one of celebration and conviviality, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looking like having come home. His body language was of one of great ease, happiness and comfort. As for the Pakistan leadership, it was effusive hospitality, exuberant welcome and warm cordiality all rolled into one. The synergy between PM Imran Khan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was spontaneous; it was like twin brothers talking heart to heart, man to man, without any empty formalities and ceremonial artificiality.
Pakistan-Saudi relations are multi-dimensional. Rooted deep in common bonds of history, culture and faith, the bilateral ties also have their politico-economic dimensions and far-reaching strategic implications in a fast-changing regional scenario. The cementing force between the countries is a close identity of views on regional and international issues and a shared vision of the future.
The landmark visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has heralded a new era in Pak-Saudi Arabia ties. The prime importance of the visit lies in reinforcing mutual diplomatic, security and economic cooperation between the two countries and projecting the message of a synchronized strategic vision of the future stability of the region, especially of the Muslim world. The relationship is firmly rooted in shared religion, values and culture. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy the commonality of views on many regional and global political issues. Their deep and close cooperation also extends to close ties in the fields of security and defense, counterterrorism, investment, trade, culture, human resource and religious affairs.
For Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has been a trusted friend. Since the conclusion of the Treaty of Friendship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in 1951, the Kingdom has helped us through the most difficult times in our history, be it war, natural calamities or other emergencies. Pakistan, on its part, has also supported Saudi Arabia in times of need. The visit of the Future King of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was truly a historic one, given its long-term significance and wide-ranging agenda. The distinguished guest from Saudi Arabia was accorded an unprecedented welcome on arrival and given a warm send-off by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who is regarded as the man who revived Riyadh-Islamabad relations, pulling the two countries’ ties out of the cold belt during his visit to Saudi Arabia in August 2018.
Just as Prime Minister Imran Khan is building a new Pakistan with his energetic and innovative policies and programmes, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is giving Saudi Arabia a new look. He has taken a number of steps for opening up Saudi society, including empowerment of women and a new industrialization drive. Both leaders have a shared vision for taking their respective countries towards the path of sustained progress and prosperity.
The visit of the Saudi crown prince, though of short duration, yet has had a wide-ranging impact on bilateral relations. It augurs well for Pakistan and its people as a game changer in the same class as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC is not only developing various sectors through massive Chinese investment but also boosting Pakistan’s connectivity and giving impetus to it, being an important regional country. Likewise, massive Saudi investment in different sectors in Pakistan will greatly help promote the country as an important destination for investors from around the world. Pakistan has already invited Saudi Arabia to become a partner in the CPEC and Saudi participation in different sectors will go a long way to supplement the impact which the CPEC is already making. Needless to say, the huge upcoming Saudi investment is not just economic assistance but more of a strategic partnership of great importance, not only in the region but beyond.
The visit has been described as highly successful in the joint statement issued at the conclusion of the Saudi crown prince’s visit, which laid the foundation for a new chapter in Pakistan-Saudi relations and put in place a framework to guide the future direction of political, diplomatic, economic, investment, trade, defence and security cooperation. According to the joint statement, the establishment of the Supreme Coordination Council, its subsidiary mechanism and the council’s inaugural session in Islamabad are key steps for shaping the new trajectory in bilateral relations. The joint statement, while reaffirming the historic relationship between the two brotherly countries, has also applauded the growing momentum in bilateral ties in all areas. Both sides have also strongly condemned the atrocities and human rights violations against Muslims around the world. During the visit, PM Prime Minister briefed the crown prince on grave human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir and the need for the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions.