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Explaining Agenda Behind Pakistani COAS' Visit to Saudi Arabia

© Photo : Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaChief of Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan General Asim Munir meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to discuss military cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan General Asim Munir meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to discuss military cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. - Sputnik India, 1920, 20.03.2024
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan General Asim Munir on Wednesday met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to discuss military cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) disclosed in a press release that the army chief met with the Saudi prime minister during an official visit to the Gulf Kingdom.
As per Geo News, a variety of topics of mutual interest, such as regional peace and security as well as bilateral defence and security cooperation, were discussed during the meeting.
Both countries have historically maintained strong and friendly relations, with both nations aiming to strengthen these bonds in recent years. As per Arab News, the establishment of the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council in May 2021, which aims to boost collaboration across various sectors and provide strategic guidance for their relationship, exemplified this.

"The Pakistani military wields significant influence in the country's affairs. Amid a newly formed government and the issue of economic challenges, the recent visit of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to Saudi Arabia, although seemingly centred on military cooperation in public perception, may actually aim to urge the IMF to release loans with more favourable terms. Discussions likely encompassed the Hamas-Israel conflict, regional current developments, and Pakistan's position on these matters," Professor Faisal Javaid, a think tanker, D.Director of ORIC at Federal Urdu University Karachi & a Geo-Political analyst, told Sputnik.

Focus on Security & Defense Cooperation

According to archives, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have a longstanding history of defence cooperation, marked by military collaboration, defence agreements, and joint exercises.
"Pakistan's COAS General Syed Asim Munir is in Saudi Arabia to enhance bilateral relations in security, military cooperation, anti-terrorism, economy, investment, energy, and infrastructure. He met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and other officials to discuss regional peace, defence cooperation, and military collaboration for self-reliance in equipment production," Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan, an expert, Executive Director at the Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) told Sputnik.
In January, the Trilateral Defence Collaboration was held at the Rawalpindi General Headquarters, where Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey discussed potential collaboration in defence equipment technologies, including research and development, he added.

"As we know, in the 1950s, Pakistan was a member of CENTO and SEATO and served as a strategic ally for the USA in Middle Eastern affairs. Now, I think, the USA seems to be leveraging its relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to influence Pakistan in line with US regional objectives," Dr.Faisal Javaid, a geo-political analyst opined.

Assisting Pakistan in Economic Troubles

Despite the robust defence relations, Saudi Arabia has played a crucial role in assisting Pakistan in managing its financial difficulties.
This assistance has come in the form of substantial economic aid, such as deposits into Pakistan's central bank, deferred payment arrangements for oil imports, and direct financial support.

"As a strategic ally, Saudi Arabia provided over $3 billion to prevent Pakistan from defaulting, aiding successful negotiations with the IMF. The unconditional financial support and ongoing aid have helped the government meet international payment obligations, including opening LCs and fulfilling banking requirements," Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan, an analyst further told Sputnik.

These initiatives have helped ease the strain on Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves and have supported its fiscal stability during a challenging economic phase.

Financial Assistance Doesn't Come For Granted

"Recent events, like the US substantial aid package to Egypt, reveal a pattern where countries like Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan maintain a reserved stance on the Palestine issue. Economic assistance often entails compromises on certain positions, highlighting the intricate dynamics of global relations," Faisal Javaid, a geo-political expert said.

"Hence, we also see that during a previous visit, Saudi Arabia and Dubai pledged a joint billion-dollar investment in Pakistan to bolster its economic stability."

"Both nations are increasing cooperation in the livestock sector, with agreements signed to cultivate alfalfa cattle fodder for export. This $25 billion investment pledge from Saudi Arabia and the UAE in September 2023 shows significant progress. Plans for a special quota in NEOM and a proposed Skill University demonstrate a shared commitment to economic development," Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan, a South Asian-based analyst further revealed with Sputnik news that Saudi companies are exploring various sectors in Pakistan, including oil, gas, construction, food, agriculture, mining, metals, and green technologies, indicating a mutually beneficial partnership."

FILE - Pakistan army Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir attends a ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.03.2023
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