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Erdogan or Mohammed bin Salman: Is Pakistan leaving Saudi Arabia and getting closer to Turkey?


It has been echoed in diplomatic circles for months that there has been a "policy shift" in Pakistan's foreign relations and now Islamabad is leaning towards Turkey.


It is also echoed that Pakistan is now giving precedence to Turkey over Saudi Arabia.


This impression is given by the news and trends that have been adorning social media for the past few weeks. Some of them were based on fake news which the Pakistan Foreign Office itself had to come forward to refute.


Among them was the news on the day of the recent FATF meeting that Saudi Arabia had opposed Pakistan in the voting process. As the trend intensified and debate began, the Foreign Office had to explain in a statement.


After this, on the occasion of Kashmir Day, Saudi Arabia started trending on social media once again when the news came out that the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh has been banned from holding Kashmir Day celebrations and now the latest The situation is that the issue of Saudi currency has been raised.



On the other side of the same note, a world map has been printed which did not show Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan as part of India which Pakistanis were happy about.


But soon several Indian news channels and social media accounts reported that these areas were not even shown as part of Pakistan on the map.


The move reflects India's official position on the Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan issue in both countries. It was praised in the Indian media but the process was not taken very warmly in Pakistan.


How these countries have relations with Pakistan, it may not be a big deal for Turkey or Saudi Arabia, but these relations are very important for Pakistan itself.


Saudi Arabia has repeatedly stepped in to provide economic assistance to Pakistan in the past, but experts say that in return, Pakistan has had to not only keep Saudi Arabia at the top of its foreign policy priorities, but in some cases the 'micro-management' of this foreign policy. "I began to see Saudi interference, which apparently is no longer acceptable to Pakistan.


However, observers also believe that the apparent coldness in relations is not due to Pakistan's relations with Turkey, Iran or any other country, but to the "issues" on which Pakistan expected Saudi support.


The BBC spoke to the former ambassador and foreign affairs experts about this and tried to understand whether the inclination towards Ankara was a unique thing or an evolutionary development in foreign policy.


According to former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed, the Pakistani people are already opposed to some of Saudi Arabia's decisions, such as Saudi Arabia's support to India on the Kashmir issue or not supporting Pakistan's position as expected. ۔


On the other hand, he believes that even signs of support for Israel are undermining the Pakistani people's confidence in Saudi Arabia.



According to senior journalist and analyst Naseem Zehra, it is not that Pakistan has changed relations in a jiffy, but the country will do its best to ensure that the basic ties are not affected at all and as far as military relations are concerned. I have not changed at the moment and will not in the near future.


She believes relations with Turkey are moving forward in a natural way and has nothing to do with the current relationship with Saudi Arabia.


"Improving Pakistan's relations with Turkey ... There may be religious, historical, cultural, tourism and many other reasons, so it is only natural that in the presence of all these factors, relations with Turkey should be further strengthened. It is wrong to say that relations with Saudi Arabia are deteriorating due to strong ties with Turkey.


Naseem Zehra said that the reason for the change in relations with Saudi Arabia is something else.


"Every country has different interests. Saudi Arabia has the right to give preference to India or any country in the region. This is also the right of Pakistan.


According to him, for the first time such a situation has arisen that Pakistan is trying to use its geographical position to develop its economy and this is not a matter of one year, this has been the practice of Pakistan for the last few years. This has led to an improvement in the situation in Afghanistan and an overall change in the region.


Earlier, in an interview with the BBC, Rashid Hussein, an analyst with a keen interest in Saudi Arabia, said that the change in relations was not sudden but "the pressure was mounting over the years."


He traces the pressure back to 2002, when then-Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh visited Saudi Arabia.


At the time, he was using "economic diplomacy" to sever special ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.


Rashid Hussain says that Saudi Arabia has taken a new angle instead of looking at the affairs of the region from the perspective of Pakistan. Thus began a new era in Saudi-Indian relations, which did not even mention Pakistan's interests and relations.


Then last year, the UAE, ignoring Pakistan's protests, invited Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to a meeting of foreign ministers of Islamic countries, which prevented Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi from attending. Happened


It doesn't end there! The United Arab Emirates gave a warm welcome to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and then Saudi Arabia also invited Narendra Modi to visit their country and gave the highest honors to strengthen the relations between India and Saudi Arabia. Expressed


Tensions in the relationship then escalated due to the attitude of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) when the organization was reluctant to convene a meeting of foreign ministers against Pakistan's demands.



According to media reports, after the same statement, Saudi Arabia announced that Pakistan would repay the loan of more than three billion dollars given to Pakistan in 2018, ahead of schedule.


After the reaction, the bitterness escalated to the point that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was sent to Saudi Arabia for talks.


Then Dr. Ali Awad Asiri, the former ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, wrote in an article published in Arab News that 'Pakistan's relationship with Saudi Arabia is based on mutual love, religion, culture and social values. Can't go This relationship transcends the transformation of personalities and governments in both countries.


However, the former Saudi ambassador described the Pakistani foreign minister's statement as a "dangerous suggestion" that if Saudi Arabia did not convene a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers' Committee for Kashmir, Pakistan May call an organization meeting.


Asiri wrote in his article published in Arab News that if Foreign Minister Qureshi's suggestion meant holding another meeting like Kuala Lumpur, "it is a dangerous idea that cannot be expected from a brotherly country." ۔ '


Former ambassador Shamshad Ahmed believes that Saudi policies are opposed even within the royal family and Pakistan cannot support these policies. And each country has its own foreign policy.


In the past, when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto tried to persuade the US to support him, the Saudi rulers did not agree. But Pakistan has in the past also given significant priority to Saudi Arabia. Even on the issue of Iran, the then President Ayub was asked by the Shah of Iran what Saudi Arabia gives you? Pakistan will do what is in Pakistan's interest.


According to senior journalist Amir Zia, not only anti-Saudi rhetoric has surfaced on social media in recent days, but also misleading or misleading material is being spread here on a linguistic and sectarian basis. Attempts are being made to provoke such issues.


He says Pakistan is a "polarized" society. There is a section that has anti-Saudi sentiments and on the other side there is a section that is stubborn about our neighboring Islamic country (ie Iran), these sections do not represent the real Pakistan or Pakistan's foreign policy. They look through the lens of sectarianism.


Amir Zia added that relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had soured once or twice in the past, "but it is clear that Saudi Arabia is one of the main pillars of Pakistan's foreign policy."


According to Amir Zia, both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are very important for Pakistan.


"The beauty of diplomacy should be the good relations between the two countries. Relations with Pakistan are also important for Saudi Arabia. It is not possible to turn even small matters into a mountain of mustard that no ceremony was allowed to be held and so on. As far as the people are concerned, the people have a very sincere attitude towards both the Turkish people and Saudi Arabia.


Talking about the Kashmir issue, he said that every country adopts proximity or distance in diplomatic relations on the basis of its own interests. In this case, the thinking of the Pakistani people is based on emotions rather than realism.


"The realism is that every country looks after its own interests. The Kashmir issue was very important to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia's support to India on this was perhaps unbelievable for Pakistan. And Pakistan was right in supporting Kashmir on the OIC issue. That is why the Pakistani people, the government and the establishment are angry over this issue. ‘


He said that it was not acceptable to micromanage Pakistan's foreign policy as it was against our state interest.


According to Naseem Zahra, there are many motives for changing the nature of a relationship. Saudi Arabia's relations with India, the Yemen issue, and then expectations from Pakistan itself are all factors.


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