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India Wants Saudi Arabia to Pressure Pakistan on Anti-India Terrorism

Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh being received by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia His Royal Highness Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud at King Khalid International Airport- Royal Terminal, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, 27 Feb 2010

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, last week asked Saudi Arabia to try to influence Pakistan to crack down on anti-Indian terrorists in Pakistan. For years, India has insisted on dealing directly with Pakistan, but Saudi Arabia has close ties to Paksitan.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Saudi Arabia resulted in the signing several agreements, including an extradition treaty.

Terrorism also was a key issue in Mr. Singh's talks with Saudi King Abdullah.

Indian deputy foreign minister Shashi Tharoor was part of Mr. Singh's delegation. "Saudi Arabia of course has a long and close relationship with Pakistan," Singh said. "But that makes Saudi Arabia all the more valuable interlocutor for us."

Mr. Singh asked King Abdullah to persuade Pakistan to cease supporting terrorism against India.

Later, he briefed India's parliament on his visit. "Saudi Arabia is also affected by terrorism. And this was one of the subjects that came up in our discussion," he said.

"India needs that in order to manage its relationship with Pakistan," Stephen Cohen, Brookings Institution stated. "I think it needs to think more broadly about where it wants to go to Pakistan."

Mr. Singh's move shows that India is serious about improving relations with Pakistan, says Shuja Nawaz at the Atlantic Council. "It is primarily because it is in India's own interest to have a stable Pakistan on its border and to be able to open the door to Afghanistan and Central Asia," he said.

Cohen says he is not sure what Saudi Arabia can do to aid India's relations with Pakistan, because Saudi influence over terror groups is more private than offical.
"There are a lot of rich Saudis who believe in supporting the faithful, even if the faithful are carrying guns and hand grenades around the world," he said. "How do you control that, that's more difficult than getting the Saudi government to commit itself."

Both Cohen and Nawaz say that since domestic terrorism also threatens Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government might decide to cooperate with India.

"An important government in South Asia with which it has good relations, is really concerned about the Saudi support for these groups and Saudi relations with Pakistan, a thinking government in Saudi Arabia will respond in some way," Cohen said.

"After all India is a major power in the region. It is potentially a global power. It has a huge market," Nawaz explained. "There is trade and other service links. All of this makes it quite critical for the two countries to have a good relationship."

And the analysts emphasize that both India and Pakistan must realize, they do not need third-party pressure on each other to improve relations. They should improve relations because it is in the interest of their own people.