Pak-Saudi ties: A history of goodwill

Updated 23 March 2017
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Pak-Saudi ties: A history of goodwill

HISTORICALLY, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed deep and long-standing bonds based on their common geopolitical interests. The presence of a large number of expatriate Pakistani workers in the Kingdom has also added a new dimension to these ties.
Saudi Arabia has always stood with Pakistan to help the country weather its political and economic crises. The general perception about Pakistan-Saudi relations is that they started with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This development may have given a new impetus to our ties but they date back to the period before the creation of Pakistan.
It was in April 1940 when the then Crown Prince Saud bin Abdul Aziz visited Karachi and was warmly welcomed by leaders of the All-India Muslim League, including Mirza Abul Hasan Ispahani, M.A. Maniar and Karim Bhai Ibrahim, that laid the foundation of the future relations between the two countries. The then crown prince was accompanied by a large delegation, including his five brothers, Prince Faisal, Prince Saad, Prince Fahd, Prince Mansoor and Prince Abdullah. There is, however, no record of the dignitaries’ meeting with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
During the 1943 Bengal famine, the Saudi leadership responded positively to Quaid-e-Azam’s appeal for humanitarian assistance. King Abdul Aziz sent the first foreign aid of £10,000 to help the people in Bengal. In 1946, Jinnah sent a delegation of leaders of the Pakistan movement under M.A.H. Ispahani to the UN. While the Indian National Congress team was obstructing the Muslim League envoys’ engagements, Prince Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, who was leading the Saudi delegation, came to their rescue. Saudi Arabia invited Ispahani and his colleagues to the official reception given in the honour of all other delegates at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Prince Faisal then introduced members of the Pakistan movement to other UN delegates, where they explained their struggle for a separate homeland.
It is said that after the creation of Pakistan, Arab merchants settled in Mumbai and Calcutta migrated to Pakistan, especially to Karachi. In 1954, King Saud laid the foundation stone for a housing scheme in Karachi — the then capital of Pakistan — which was named after him as “Saudabad.”
King Faisal was equally revered by the then Pakistani government and named a key Karachi artery, Sharea Faisal, and an airbase after him. The name of Lyallpur, a city in the central Punjab, was also changed to Faisalabad to honor Prince Faisal.
It was three years after the 1965 war when Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the then Saudi minister of defence and aviation, visited Pakistan and a bilateral defense cooperation protocol was formalized. During the 1970s, the Saudi leadership responded to then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s request for financial assistance in order to respond to India’s nuclear ambitions.
Furthermore, over 2 million Pakistanis employed in Saudi Arabia send home remittances amounting to nearly Rs4 billion annually.
Following the nuclear tests in 1998, the Western nations imposed sanctions on Pakistan during which Saudi Arabia provided 50,000 barrels of oil per day to Pakistan for one year; amounting to about one-sixth of Pakistan’s total oil imports on deferred payment terms, a major part of which was later converted into grant.
It has never been a one-way relationship though. Pakistan has always stood by the Arab nation in times of war and peace and they have always reciprocated in kind. Pakistan can never afford to lose its time-tested strategic allies.
• The writer is the press counselor at the Consulate General of Pakistan, Jeddah.


Saudi Arabia calls on Qatar to allow its pilgrims to perform Hajj

Updated 17 July 2019
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Saudi Arabia calls on Qatar to allow its pilgrims to perform Hajj

  • The ministry accused the Qatari government of blocking attempts by its citizens to perform the pilgrimage
  • Saudi Arabia is one of several Arab countries that launched a boycott of Qatar in 2017 over the country’s support for extremist groups

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has created a new webpage for Qataris who wish to perform the pilgrimage this year.
Qatari Hajj pilgrims can register their details, browse packages and pay for them at: https://qh1440.haj.gov.sa

The ministry called on Qatar not to block the webpage as it did previously and “cooperate in order to allow its citizens to perform Hajj easily.”

Saudi Arabia is one of several Arab countries that launched a boycott of Qatar in 2017 over the country’s support for extremist groups.

The embargo includes transport restrictions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but the Kingdom has taken measures to ensure pilgrims from Qatar can travel freely for Hajj and Umrah.

The ministry said on Saturday it had taken several steps to ensure pilgrims could enter Saudi Arabia for for Hajj, which starts next month. But the ministry accused the Qatari government of blocking attempts by its citizens to perform the pilgrimage.

Following a recent meeting with a Qatari delegation to discuss the logistics of pilgrims from the country arriving in the Kingdom, the delegation from Doha left without signing any agreements to enable access for it citizens, according to the ministry.

In response to Doha’s actions, the statement said that Qatari pilgrims could complete their applications upon arrival in Saudi Arabia.