News / Asia

Saudi-Pakistan Military Ties Getting Stronger

A handout photo released by the Press Information Department (PID) shows Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (R) welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al- Saud at the Prime Minister's House in Islamabad. Feb. 17, 2014 (AFP)
A handout photo released by the Press Information Department (PID) shows Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (R) welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al- Saud at the Prime Minister's House in Islamabad. Feb. 17, 2014 (AFP)
Kokab Farshori
Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is Saudi Arabia’s deputy prime minister and defense minister has just concluded an official visit to Pakistan.  Some defense experts say that Saudi Arabia’s close military ties with Pakistan, though not new, now have a new dimension - namely countering the threat of a nuclear-capable Iran.
 
Some security experts fear that one of the unintended consequences of international efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran could be to put its Gulf rival Saudi Arabia on a fast track to boost its own military capability in an unprecedented way. 
 
Ali Sherazi is Pakistan’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and speaking to VOA’s Deewa Radio he says Riyadh may fear a nuclear deal could end economic sanctions on Iran, enabling it to secretly pursue its ambitions.
 
“Iran is seeking to be a nuclear power and Saudi Arabia as a regional power, cannot ignore this, he said.” 
 
With one of the largest armies in the world and the only declared nuclear power among the Muslim states, Pakistan is in a unique position to assist Saudi Arabia with its defense needs. 
 
Sarfraz Khan, the chairman of the Area Study Center at the University of Peshawar, says Iran and Saudi Arabia have conflicting interests in the region and Pakistan can strengthen the Saudi position. 
 
“To counter Iran’s influence, Saudi Arabia has often looked towards Pakistan’s help,” he told Deewa Radio. 
 
Last year, the BBC reported that Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons projects.  Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia denied the report.
 
But there is no denying that the military cooperation between the two countries is strong and getting stronger.  The joint statement issued Monday at the end of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz visit says “The two sides also agreed on the need to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defense.”
 
This cooperation comes in many forms, including training of Saudi pilots by the Pakistan Air Force and the deployment of Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia to provide security. 
 
Nauman Wazir, a defense analyst and former air commodore of Pakistan's Air Force, says now Pakistan may sell JF-17 Thunder combat jets and trainer aircraft to Saudi Arabia. 
 
“For Saudi Arabia, there is no better aircraft than the JF-17 as a trainer and as a fighter plane.  It has the capability to support the troops on the ground,” Wazir told Deewa.  
 
But the two countries' joint statement does not specify if the Saudis are interested in buying jets from Pakistan.
 
Ali Sherazi also says say Iran is not the only reason Saudi Arabia wants close military ties with Islamabad. They say Pakistan can also help the oil-rich kingdom combat the threat from al-Qaida and border incursions from neighboring Yemen.
 
“Al-Qaida is also seen as a threat in Saudi Arabia.  On top of that the regional situation like the infiltration from Yemen is a factor and that makes the Saudi threat perception multi-dimensional,” Sherazi said.
 
Pakistan has its own disputes with Tehran largely focused on the tense border between Iran and Pakistan’s Balochistan province.  Five Iranian border guards were seized recently by militants and taken across the border into Balochistan, prompting Iran to warn that it might send forces across the border to free them.  Pakistan expressed “serious concern” over the remarks and tense ties with Iran are likely to push Islamabad and Riyadh closer together say analysts.  
 
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also enjoys exceptionally close ties with senior members of the Saudi royal family.  When Sharif was toppled in a bloodless military coup in 1999, Saudi Arabia intervened and military chief, Pervez Musharraf allowed Sharif and his family to travel into exile in Saudi Arabia.  Mehmood Shah, a former Pakistani army brigadier and senior official in Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI says those close ties will only strengthen ties between Islamabad and Riyadh.
 
“During former President Zardari’s tenure relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were not really warm but as we know that PM Sharif has good relations with the Saudi ruling family and that further strengthens the bilateral ties,” Shah told Deewa.

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Comments
     
by: hammad from: pakistan
February 26, 2014 10:38 AM
Pakistan is a democratic country.it will be worse for Pakistan to support any sectarian conflict in muslim world. Being nuclear and strong democratic country Pakistan should play positive role rather then helping hand for any rival saudi arabi is stronger enough to give financial support to all the poor muslim countriess but in this sector they are dumb and deaf (our only importance is just because of our defence and that defence should be for us not as(RENT AN ARMY) we are same like indians in arab countries and we should have to treat them equally


by: Jamil M Chaudri from: Huntington, WV
February 22, 2014 3:57 PM
Iran is not a militarist nation; Iran is a civilizing nation. Iran is a democratic state. Iran has not threatened any neighbour, far or near. Nations have ideologies. Iran also has a state ideology. Iran’s state ideology is no different from that of Sandi Arabia, or that of Pakistan.
It is foreign powers trying to keep these nations under their tutelage, by stymieing their growth and interjecting alien and aberrant notions into their ideologies that are putting seeds of distrust between them.
It does not beget Pakistan anything to favour one Muslim nation over another. For 700 years the State language of the lands comprising the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was Persian. The Iranian Head of State was the first Foreign Head of State to visit Pakistan. The Pakis are an Irianianised people. Now, why would Pakia favour a despotic/undemocratic (albeit Rich & Arab) state over democratic Iran?
If a single nation possesses nuclear armaments, all nations have the RIGHT to possess such armaments. It is an unalienable right, which no other nation can usurp. Iran as well as any Arab nation or even Nauru, Tuvalu, and San Marino, have the God given right to possess any weapon they feel they need to safeguard their civilization.


by: Rabia from: Ryadh
February 20, 2014 12:12 PM
It was much of the faulty assumption made against Pakistan selling nuclear to Saudia. Despite media and political claims on this Saudi’s ambitions to the contrary Pakistan has always behaved like a responsible nuclear state. Despite these rumors, the Pakistanis recognize that the primary threats to the security and stability of Saudi Arabia are domestic against which nuclear weapons have no value but by assisting Riyadh for nuclear deterrent will elevate grave apprehensions in international community. Actually, providing a complete nuclear weapon would come at unlimited political cost i.e. Pakistan will be further treated as unreliable nuclear state and Washington would drive into further nuclear cooperation with India.

In Response

by: Abdullah from: Houston, Texas
March 15, 2014 11:45 PM
In my opinion, time has come to choose sides. Pakistan cant always stay neutral. Siding with Saudi Arabia is the best thing for Pakistan. Regardless of what Washington thinks, Pakistan must do what is right by Saudi Arabia and what is right by its own interests. Washington will only do what it chooses to do. That will never be in Pakistan's favor and never has been.


by: Sabir Akbar from: Islamabad
February 20, 2014 12:00 PM
Pakistan and Iran had good relations diplomatically and strategically but since the Iran nuclear deal Saudi Arabia felt threaten as rivals if Iran gets the nuclear weapon. Imbalance of power and with the weapon of mass destruction Iran can attack Saudia, to balance the power in the region. Now Saudia is in search of nuclear weapons deal and strategic assets, with good relations with Pakistan. Pakistan can only accept the defense cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation but transfer of nuclear weapons is not in Pakistan benefit and policies.


by: Anonymous
February 20, 2014 11:16 AM
Well before the uprisings of the so-called Arab Spring, King Abdullah regarded the threat of a nuclear Iran as a major destabilizing force. More than 10 years ago, the Guardian reported the kingdom was debating a strategy paper setting out three options: acquiring a nuclear capability of its own, maintaining or entering into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection, or trying to reach a regional agreement on a nuclear-free Middle East. Pakistan and Saudis have strong relations but if there is any possibility of Saudi's procurement of nuclear weapon, it will be procured from USA.


by: Khan Batuta from: UAE
February 20, 2014 7:15 AM
News of nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia is baseless and devoid of truth.


by: hassan from: somalia
February 20, 2014 1:42 AM
Bilateral between muslin nations never remain strong and last longing because America and its European allies do not want see allying muslin nations. they always work out on a formula to cut any ties between muslin nations. so i have no good hope about Saudi and Pakistani new ties.


by: CAPCORNLEO from: NETHERLAND
February 20, 2014 1:27 AM
There is nothing new in this bilateral cooperation of two countries. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has a long history of cooperation and coordination with each other. Viewing this visit within the parameters of Iranian nuclear deal than we have to accept certain specific things between the two countries. Although there is a brotherhood reflection but Pakistan can never compromise on its nuclear assets. Its nuclear weapons are primarily for the deterrence purpose against the threats to its statehood particularly. The country can never compromise on the safety and security of its nuclear technology and skills.


by: al habeeb from: Dubai
February 20, 2014 12:11 AM
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has friendly relations and both states are cooperating in many areas of developments. As the world is turning towards security conciousness that's why it is need of time to establish strong military relations.


by: JKF2 from: Great North (Canada)
February 19, 2014 9:57 PM
A totally predictable outcome, KSA is re-invigorating ties with Pakistan, due to the perceived abandonment of KSA vis a vis the situation developing wrt Iran = Syria, Iraq, nuclear weapons...etc. A full strategic re-alignment is taking place in the Gulf States to counter the nuclear and expansionist threat from Iran, the proxi war is well underway in Syria/Yemen/Iraq. At face value, it may not seem as a big issue, those with a lack of a strategic regional vision see no problem. As time has progressed, Pakistan has moved away from the West and more and more it is relying on China as its strategic partner; a relationship that continues to expand; by extension the same will go for the KSA, and the other Gulf states; this potentially will have a significant negative impact on the interaction/diplomacy/ sales of Western technologies and Western services etc.. to the region. Should the final agreement with Iran fail to asail the perceptions, the entire region will militarize and even destabilize well beyond imaginable expectations, and serious broader conflicts will come to pass; Syria, Yemen, Iraq, the nuclearization and expansionism of Iran are driving the negative situation, and a lack of confidence in the West to resolve the issues abounds; continuous Iranian announcements of more sophisticated weapon developments just expedites/confirms the perceived conclusions. Lots of ground issues need to be addressed by the West. Not a good situation for global stability.

In Response

by: spring12 from: usa
February 20, 2014 11:52 AM
you mentioned twice about "Iran's expansionism" not sure where you get this non sense that Iran is expanding it's territories please explain in more detail where Iran has expanded or looking to expand w/ proper documents otherwise your statements are nothing but total garbage.

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