Modi’s Saudi Arabia Visit May Unnerve Pakistan: US Think Tank

The growth in trade between India and Saudi Arabia may be seen as threat by Saudi’s long time ally Pakistan

Published
India
2 min read


Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Governer of Riyadh Faisal Bin Bandar al Saud at the Riyadh airport. (Photo: PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in March could unnerve Pakistan as economic and strategic opportunities are bringing India closer to the oil-rich gulf nation, a top US expert has said. Aparna Pande, who is the director of a top American think-tank, has suggested that Pakistan may lose a key ally and a major economic benefactor in the Middle-east.

After years of considering Saudi Arabia as a major ally and economic benefactor, Pakistan may be on the verge of losing its erstwhile patron to arch-rival India. Modi arrived in Riyadh last week for an official visit full of diplomatic significance. 
Aparna Pande, Director, India Initiative of the Hudson Institute

International Relation Based on “Interests”, Not Religious Ideologies

Pande added that Modi’s visit and the warm reception he received were the latest reminders to the Pakistani leaders that international relations are based on national interest and not on vague religion-based ideology.



An Indian Prime Minister is visiting the oil-rich Gulf kingdom after nearly six years (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://twitter.com/MEAIndia">Twitter/@MEAIndia</a>)
An Indian Prime Minister is visiting the oil-rich Gulf kingdom after nearly six years (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia)
Economic and strategic issues are bringing India and Saudi Arabia closer, just as they are working to the advantage of India with other countries. For Pakistanis who see the world in binary terms as an eternal conflict between India and Pakistan, this was clearly a win for India.
Aparna Pande, Director, India Initiative of the Hudson Institute

India and Saudi Arabia Grow Closer

During the visit, Modi was conferred with the Kingdom’s highest civilian award by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz. Pande said that despite giving billions of dollars in aid and employing millions of Pakistanis, the Saudis have never bestowed their highest civilian honor on a Pakistani leader.

Modi was conferred  with Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour by king Abdul Aziz Shah. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://twitter.com/MEAIndia/status/716651198028197888">MEA</a>)
Modi was conferred with Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour by king Abdul Aziz Shah. (Photo Courtesy: MEA)

India and Saudi Arabia have become economically more significant for one another with $39.4 billion in bilateral trade in 2014-15. Pakistan-Saudi trade, in contrast, stood at a meager $6.1 billion, she said.

For India, Saudi Arabia is the main source of its oil imports, supplying one-fifth of India’s annual demand. For the Saudis, India is their fifth biggest customer after China, Japan, the US and South Korea, Pande said, adding that Pakistan could stick to its guns and see these developments as a threat.

Or it could change its own approach to India and seek rapprochement to take advantage of economic and strategic opportunities that are making India a desirable partner for Pakistan’s erstwhile friends.
Aparna Pande, Director, India Initiative of the Hudson Institute

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