December 12, 2007

Politics:

  • After declaring a state of emergency this November, General Musharraf’s first trip abroad was to Saudi Arabia. During the visit, Musharraf unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade the Saudi government from allowing exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to leave Saudi Arabia and return to Pakistan.
  • Saudi Arabia hosted Sharif for seven years until his return to Pakistan on November 25, 2007. Sharif was able to re-enter the Pakistan as part of a deal brokered between the Saudi government and General Musharraf. Sharif previously attempted to enter Pakistan in September, but was arrested and sent back to Saudi Arabia.
  • Saudi Arabia has allegedly offered to host the former Supreme Court chief justice, who has been under house arrest since the 3rd of November. The Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, Ali Awadh Asseri, was the first foreign envoy to meet Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry since emergency rule began. The Saudi embassy claims the meeting was called to invite Chaudhary and his family to be guests of the Saudi government for the Hajj, yet there has been speculation that this invitation was an attempt at an exile arrangement.

Military:

  • Counter-terrorism: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia share intelligence on terrorist groups and reaffirmed joint opposition to terrorism in September.
  • Nuclear Technology: There have been persistent concerns about Saudi-Pakistan cooperation on nuclear technology. Saudi Arabia allegedly funded Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, though Saudi officials have denied it.
  • Saudi Arabia’s second deputy prime minister, defense and aviation minister and inspector general, Prince Sultan toured Pakistan’s uranium-enrichment plant and missile-production facilities in Kahuta shortly after the country’s nuclear tests; the site is top secret and even former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said she was not allowed to visit it when she was in power.

Economic:

  • Saudi Arabia makes up 10.5% of the total value of Pakistani imports, making it Pakistan’s second largest import partner.
  • Pakistan exports $500 million worth of goods to Saudi Arabia per year and imports $2 billion of Saudi oil, providing the majority of Pakistan’s oil imports.
  • Roughly 1 million Pakistanis live in Saudi Arabia as foreign workers, providing a major source of remittances. Between July and August of 2007, Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia sent home $202.4 million out of the $985.2 million of remittances transferred to Pakistan during that period.

Religion:

  • Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are both members of the Organization of Islamic Countries, which works to protect and advance the interests of Muslims in the world.
  • Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are linked by their strong Muslim identities; Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the Holy Mosques at Mecca and Medina and Pakistan was founded as a Muslim country.
  • Saudi Arabia funds Sunni Muslim clerics and Islamic schools, giving the Kingdom influence over Pakistan’s Sunni Islamic movements.
  • Over 600,000 Pakistanis visit Saudi Arabia for the performance of the Hajj and Umrah every year, comprising one of the largest groups of Hajj pilgrims.

Aid:

  • 2005 Earthquake: The Saudis were instrumental in providing aid in the wake of Pakistan’s October 2005 earthquake. The government pledged $133 million in direct grant aid, $187 million in concessional loans, and $153 million in export credits for Pakistan earthquake relief, making Saudi Arabia the largest donor to the earthquake relief fund.
  • Oil: From 1999 to at least mid-2000, Saudi Arabia sent 150,000 barrels of oil a day to Pakistan for free, as foreign aid. The Kingdom continues to sell oil to Pakistan at favorable rates.


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