India’s growing stature in Islamic block gives sleepless nights to Pakistan

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy has enhanced India’s diplomacy stature on global forums. His farsightedness has not only won several friends in the Islamic block, where Pakistan so far had a greater presence but has also increased its influence among Muslim countries through trade and strategic partnership.

So far, six Muslim countries have awarded their highest civilian award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2016, Saudi Arabia gave PM Modi its highest civilian honour King Abdulaziz Sash Award. UAE also honoured Prime Minister Modi with its highest civilian honour, Order of Zayed Award in 2019. Other nations include Bahrain and Maldives in 2019, Palestine in 2018, and Afghanistan in 2016. All these honours show Prime Minister Modi’s close relations with these Islamic countries.

On the contrary, Pakistan is being snubbed on international fora due to its anti-India narrative. Recently, Saudi Arabia insulted Pakistan as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman refused to meet Pak Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who reached there to apologize on behalf of his country. General Bajwa was accompanied by ISI chief, but Saudi Arabia ruler did not spare time to meet them despite their repeated requests and they returned empty-handed.

Saudi Arabia’s royal snub to Pakistan is symbolic of changing equations in the Islamic world. Notably, there are 53 countries in the world where Islam is the largest religion, and Saudi Arabia is considered the most powerful among these nations. There are three big reasons for this:

The first reason is that Saudi Arabia has 18 percent of the world’s oil reserves; Secondly, it has a very strong economy among the Arab countries. The third and the most important reason is that Saudi Arabia is the center of Islam religion because of Mecca and Medina, which are considered the most sacred places for global Muslims.

Except for Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq, Saudi Arabia enjoys good relations with all other countries in the Arab League, and 20 percent of the Muslim population of the world live in these Arab countries.

Pakistan too is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It is second in the world in terms of the Muslim population, after Indonesia, and is the only Islamic nation with nuclear power. Because of this reason, many Islamic countries don’t dare go against Pakistan and often support it.

The situation has now changed as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan came face to face on the issue of India, and the former refused to stand with Pakistan. The DNA report will let you know why this happened and how India managed to win Saudi Arabia’s favour.

On August 5, the completion of one year of the removal of Article 370 from Kashmir, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated that the OIC and Saudi Arabia are not supporting Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. He also threatened Saudi Arabia that Pakistan is always ready to sacrifice for Mecca and Medina, but Saudi Arabia does not listen to Pakistan. He urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to go ahead on this issue alone and stop trusting Saudi Arabia.

After his statement, Saudi Arabia asked Pakistan to return the loan amount of Rs 7500 crore. Shocked Pakistan borrowed from China to repay the debt. In 2018, Saudi Arabia has a loan of Rs 46000 crore to save Pakistan’s economy. Reports say that Saudi Arabia has also sought the repayment of another installment of Rs 7500 crore from Pakistan. Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement of 15 seconds on Saudi Arabia has cost Pakistan Rs 15000 crores.

Qureshi later tried to control the damage citing his country’s historical relations with Saudi Arabia, but it was too late. Saudi Arabia even ended the contract to sell oil to Pakistan.

This is a big diplomatic victory for India as this is the first time when Arab nations have supported India on the issue of Kashmir. Pakistan also failed to call a high-level meeting of OIC to put forth its anti-India agenda through Kashmir. India has managed to separate Pakistan from Arab block which now stands with India like a rock.

This development has shocked Pakistan. Pakistan Army Chief and ISI Chief were sent to Saudi Arabia in a huff to control the damage but were snubbed. Experts believe that Pakistan is also showing its back to Saudi Arabia at the behest of China, which wants Pakistan to emerge as the leader of the Islamic world.

In an interview, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, however, claimed that his country’s ties with Saudi Arabia are still strong and he is rather trying to connect the Muslim world. “The rumours that our relations with Saudi Arabia have soured are totally false,” Khan said told Dunya News television channel, adding “Our relations are very good. We are constantly in touch.”

“On the Kashmir issue, there is a view that OIC should have stepped forward,” Khan said, adding “Saudi has its own foreign policy. We shouldn`t think that because we want something Saudi will do just that.”

He also rejected any possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. “Our policy on Israel is clear: The Quaid-i-Azam (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) had said that Pakistan can never accept the state of Israel until the people of Palestine get rights and an independent state,” Imran Khan added.

Imran Khan further said, “If we recognise Israel and ignore tyranny faced by the Palestinians, we will have to give up Kashmir as well, and this we cannot do.” His remarks came in the backdrop of recent peace overtures between the UAE and Israel, with the former becoming only the third Arab nation to enter into a peace deal with the Jewish state.

On the UAE’s ties with Israel, Khan said that every state had its own foreign policy. Khan, however, praised Pakistan’s ties with China and said that the country’s future was linked to China which stood with it in all difficult times.

Pakistan currently has an international debt of Rs 43 lakh crore, comprising 90 percent of its GDP. Pakistan pays an interest of Rs 1.60 lakh crores every year. In such a situation, Pakistan has to pay a heavy price after losing the support of Islamic countries.