The GCC –
What are the Fundamentals of this relationship?
What keeps the bonds strong is the significant economic aid that
Pakistan enjoys, dynasties in the Arabian Gulf enjoy protection from the Pakistani military and lastly religious affinity.
The First and foremost problem with
is that, it is a country that survives on economic aid to sustain the functioning of the country. If it were not for this aid, Pakistan would be close to economic collapse as was seen in the balance of payments crisis in 2008. The 2 major contributors to this are the Pakistan United States and the . Other GCC countries also contribute to the coffers of the Pakistani government, but none to the tune of KSA. The United States since 9/11 have contributed close to $17 billion in aid to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia according to statistics recently published. In late 2009, the Pakistan congress agreed to a package of $7.5 billion in civil aid over 5 years as well as an additional $2billion in military aid agreed in October 2010. There are no public figures to aid offered by KSA however; many have mentioned that contributions are significant – for example when oil prices reached their peak of $147, the Pakistani government had received a $300million grant from KSA in order to provide a budgetary cushion (in order to fill the fiscal gap) to the high oil prices. US
In May 1998 when
Pakistan was deciding whether to respond to ’s test of five nuclear weapons, the Saudis promised 50,000 barrels per day of free oil to help the Pakistanis cope with the economic sanctions that might be triggered by a counter test. The Saudi oil commitment was a key to then Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif’s decision to proceed with testing. It cushioned the subsequent India U.S. and EU sanctions on considerably. The post-1998 economic support by KSA was maintained for 3 years with deferred payments which were written off at the end of the term. In early 2008, they again agreed to deferred payments. Pakistan
As one can see,
Pakistan's corrupt and security-phobic mindset squanders away its finances without investing in developmental activities and is hence highly reliant on economic aid from the and the KSA in particular. US greatly relies on the support provided by the KSA in order to survive. Pakistan Pakistan spends more money on military expenditure (estimated to be $5billion, of course receives aid in addition to this which mostly is military) than education (estimated to be just 2.2% of GDP – i.e. $3 billion). Pakistan
One of the major components to the Pakistani – GCC relations is military cooperation. Due to the economic situation of
Pakistan, has relied on other nations footing the bill for defence requirements. Most of the Pakistani defence requirements are provided under the guise of military aid to combat terror. However, it is acknowledged that much of the military aid is actually being diverted to being used to fund weapons purchases in order to be used against Pakistan India - Former president Pervez Musharraf admitted that US military aid given to Pakistan during his tenure was used to strengthen defences against . India
What about cooperation between
and the GCC? Pakistan
As recently as late 2009/early 2010, during the Saudi conflict with the Houthi rebels, Pakistani forces had been deployed. This author understands that Pakistani Air Force pilots were operating missions in support of Saudi forces fighting the Houthi rebels. Some unverified sources have suggested that the Pakistani Air Force were paid per mission undertaken in the conflict.
During the visit of Assistant Defence Minister of KSA Prince Khaled bin Sultan to
in 2004, a tighter military cooperation was made between the 2 countries. For the first time a discreet visit to Kahuta was also made. Kahuta is home to Khan Research Laboratories which houses Pakistani nuclear arms facilities. Pakistan
Here are some highlights of the defence relations between the 2 countries:
- Increase in training of the number of Saudi nuclear physicists at KRL, Kahuta
- Support Pakistani defence industry by purchasing Al Khalid tanks and offering sub-contractor work for the $7billion Saudi MIKSA border protection program to Pakistani government contractors.
- Stationing of a 1000 pakistani soldiers in KSA, with the option to increase to 80,000 in the event of a major conflict.
- A joint military Command in
with pre-positioned arms dumps. Saudi Arabia
- Possible integration with the Peninsula Shield in Hafr Al Bateen along with allied states such as
- Saudi pilots will travel to
for training along with Pakistani Air Force pilots. Rawalpindi
- There are persistant rumours that
Pakistan acted as a conduit for nuclear capable missiles to . Saudi Arabia
Any close watchers of the region can see that
co-ordinates military purchases closely with the GCC. It is also a well known fact that Pakistani defence purchases are partly paid for by the KSA. Purchase of French Agosta submarines as well as US F-16D’s were some of the examples. This is done so that the GCC can call upon the services of the Pakistani armed forces when needed. Pakistan
The author understands that
relies on Pakistani personnel to fill in gaps in personnel in the Saudi military – mainly the Air Force which flies similar aircraft to the Pakistani Air Force. The agreement is that in exchange for bankrolling Pakistani purchases of defence equipment, in return Riyadh provides some of its more experienced pilots/naval officers to be seconded to the Saudi military. Pakistan
The Downsides to relations with Pakistan
It is apparent today that most major terror plots involve
in some way or form – usually training and other support. Pakistan was made the target of attacks in 2007. Lashkar sympathisers in Muscat Oman had plans of targeting prominent landmarks in , among them a British Broadcasting Corporation office, the Golden Tulip Hotel, and a spa in the upmarket Nizwa area. No final operational plans were made, but Muscat authorities found enough evidence to sentence suspects to life in prison. Oman
For further info on the planned attacks in
and how Omani and Indian investigators worked together on the Mumbai Attacks please read: Oman
Members of the AQAP (Al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula) are also known to be very active in the Af-Pak region and evidence suggests that these individuals receive support from the Pakistani ISI (Inter Services Intelligence). It is also noteworthy to remember that the head of the Al Qaeda’s military wing Brigade 313 is Ilyas Kashmiri – A former member of the Pakistani Army’s Special Services Group (SSG). A well known fact is that the Pakistani army is known to use the services of ex-servicemen for supporting jihadi/terror activities targeting India and ISAF troops (of which Bahrain and the UAE militaries also have a presence) in . Afghanistan
It is also not a coincidence that the Saudi ministry of interior recently released names of 47 most wanted terrorists, of which the majority (27) were located in the Af-Pak region. Majority of these leaders are likely to be living under protection of Taliban and their allies such as the Haqqani network. Many of these groups are armed and trained by the Pakistani military. It is also well acknowledged that the Taliban and its leadership are under the control of the ISI. A question GCC security officials need to ask themselves is, is it worth supporting a nation that continues to harbor/support individuals that are trying to topple their governments?
The GCC officials should also be reminded that one of the gravest threats they face today – the Iranian nuclear threat - was caused directly by
. Evidence has emerged that the “father of the Pakistani bomb” Abdul Qadeer Khan had sold equipment/know how in his nuclear black market to Pakistan . There are also indications that AQ Khan was aided and abetted by Senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials. In fact AQ Khan himself claimed that Musharraf was aware of the nuclear black market trade and approved deals. Iran
It’s no secret that GCC officials are worried about the threat emanating from
as we have all read in the wikileaks episode. Again, the question needs to be asked, Is this the partner that GCC wishes to rely upon for its security? Iran
Why is this relevant today?
Many analysts have completely missed the significance of recent high level visits from
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to . Prince Bandar (A royal emissary for HM King Abdullah of Pakistan Saudi Arabia) had visited senior leaders in including the Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani. Sources have confirmed that Prince Bandar is said to have requested Pakistani troops to be deployed if the internal unrest continues in Pakistan Yemen, and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain
The Foreign Minister of Bahrain HRH Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa also paid a visit to
Islamabad shortly after Prince Bandar had departed for . We expect similar discussions on security coordination to have taken place. New Delhi
I leave you with a quote from the book (My Life with the Taliban) of Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Taliban regimes Ambassador to
said Saturday it had agreed to borrow $7.6 billion from the International Monetary Fund Pakistan
 http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2010/1022/What-another-2-billion-in-US-military-aid-means-for-Pakistan What another $2billion in Military aid means to
: Nervously Watching Pakistan. Saudi Arabia
 http://southasia.oneworld.net/Article/most-of-the-us-aid-to-pakistan-goes-in-military-spending Most US aid to
goes to military spending Pakistan
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8254360.stm Mussharraf admits US Aid diverted.
: Nervously Watching Pakistan. Saudi Arabia
 Data Source
 Data Source
 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article4926401.ece Taliban leader killed by SAS was a Pakistani Army officer
 http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Globespotting/entry/baradar-our-vote-goes-to Baradar: Our vote goes to the ISI.
 http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/pakistan/khan.htm AQ Khan Profile
 http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/05-Jul-2008/Musharraf-knows-best-about-nuclear-deal-with-NKorea-AQ Musharraf Knows Best about Nuclear Deal with