Saudi No More A Big Brother To Pakistan?

Saudi No More A Big Brother To Pakistan?

Saudi Arabia recently displayed hostility towards Pakistan by withdrawing its aid after the latter criticized it for its neutrality regarding certain issues. Let us take a look at the recent history between the two and what led to this move.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Animosity
Saudi Arabia recently asked Pakistan to immediately repay $1 billion of its total $3 billion loan, for which the latter had to borrow $1 billion from China, which otherwise it was unable to pay.

The loan is a part of a $6.2 billion financial package, which Saudi Arabia provided to Pakistan in 2018. $3 billion of the package was directly in loan to help Pakistan repay several of its loans, and this was to be paid in installments by 2021. The remaining $3.2 billion was in the form of “deferred” oil supply – Pakistan was supplied oil for which it had to pay later.

The current decision to withdraw the aid forced Pakistan to repay the loan immediately while its oil supply from Saudi Arabia has been terminated.

Why It Happened?
Pakistan has been attempting to call a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over the Kashmir issue and has been hostile since India abrogated Article 370 from the Jammu & Kashmir state. Saudi Arabia did not openly back Pakistan in the conflict, while several nations of the OIC like the UAE, Oman, Maldives supported India by labeling Kashmir issue as an “internal matter” of India.

Pakistan recently claimed it will go ahead “with or without” Saudi Arabia and the OIC if they do not support it against India, and also claimed that Saudi Arabia is not “doing enough” regarding the Kashmir issue. In return, Saudi terminated the financial aid and the oil supply to Pakistan.

Recent Saudi-Pakistan Relations

  • 2018: Pakistan attended the Saudi summit even after several organizations and countries boycotted the event. The boycott occurred over the killing of a Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, who was reportedly killed by Saudi agents.
  • 2018: Saudi extended a $6.2 billion aid to Pakistan.
  • 2019: Pakistan PM Imran Khan himself drove Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from airport when he visited Pakistan. Prince Salman declared himself an “ambassador” of Pakistan in Saudi while returning the gratitude.
  • The House of Saud is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia. It is composed of the descendants of Muhammad bin Saud, founder of the Emirate of Diriyah, known as the First Saudi State.
  • The Reko Diq mine is a large copper mine located in the south-west part of Pakistan in Balochistan province. Reko Diq represents one of the largest copper reserves in Pakistan and in the world. The mineral resource at Reko Diq is estimated at 5.9 billion tonnes with an average copper grade of 0.41% and an average gold grade of 0.22 g/tonne.
  • Najd is a geographical central region of Saudi Arabia that accounts for about a third of the population of the country. Najd consists of the modern administrative regions of Riyadh, Sudair, Al-Qassim, and Ha’il.

India Shows Pakistan Mirror at UNHRC

In the ongoing session on Human Rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), India has portrayed a strong anti-terrorism view. Pakistan’s attempt to internationalize the Kashmir issue was slammed by India by showing it a mirror of terrorism and other nefarious activities.

Crux of the Matter

India Strong at UNHRC
India slammed Pakistan at UNHRC for supporting terrorism in the state. Pakistan tried to internationalize the ‘Abrogation of Article 370’ by stating that India violated Human Rights in the Valley.

Stop public advocacy and support for terrorists by Pakistani leadership at the highest level, end illegal and forcible occupation and reverse the demographic changes in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and take structural reforms to develop a semblance of democracy in Pakistan.

– Vimarsh Aryan, First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission

In turn, India criticized Pakistan for violating the human rights of its citizens and promoting regional instability by giving shelter to terrorist organizations like JeM in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). India came up with a list of recommendations for Pakistan.

Last year, in Pulwama 40 CRPF jawans died as a result of an attack on an army convoy. Since then NIA ( National Intelligence Agency) has been finding the faces behind the attack. Recently NIA informed that Sakhir Bashir Magery confessed that he had given shelter to Adil Ahmad Dar and Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Umar Farooq in his house.

The agency further added that Magrey, who owns a furniture shop, “provided shelter and other logistical assistance to the suicide-bomber Adil Ahmad Dar. He was introduced to Adil Ahmad Dar in mid-2018 by a Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Umar Farooq and he became a full-time OGW of JeM.”

Facing persistent terrorist activities from Pakistan sponsored and motivated terrorists, India slammed Pakistan at every front for not curbing terrorist activities in the state.


Human Rights in Pakistan – Pakistan is known for widespread discrimination against religious minorities, with attacks against Christians, Hindus, Ahmadiyya, Shia, Sufi and Sikh communities being widespread. These attacks are usually blamed on religious extremists but certain laws in the Pakistan Criminal Code and government inaction have only caused these attacks to surge higher. Sunni militant groups operate with impunity across Pakistan, as law enforcement officials either turn a blind eye or appear helpless to prevent widespread attacks against religious minorities.

The increasing Islamization has caused many Hindus to leave Hinduism and seek emancipation by converting to other faiths such as Buddhism and Christianity. Such Islamization include the blasphemy laws, which make it dangerous for religious minorities to express themselves freely and engage freely in religious and cultural activities.

Minority members of the Pakistan National Assembly have alleged that Hindus were being hounded and humiliated to force them to leave Pakistan. Hindu women have been known to be victims of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam. Hindus in what is now Pakistan have declined from 23% of the total population in 1947 to 1.5% today. Pakistan has been condemned for systematic state-sponsored religious discrimination against Hindus through bigoted “anti-blasphemy” laws. There are numerous reports of millions of Hindus being held as “bonded laborers” in slavery-like conditions in rural Pakistan, something repeatedly ignored by the Pakistani government. More Info

Malaysia Political Mayhem: Will India Strongarm Pak ally?

After a tussle between coalition parties, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, world’s oldest leader – aged 94, has resigned from his post on February 24. Change in Malaysian government presents Malaysia an opportunity to resolve its spat with India. India’s ties with this Pakistan-ally deteriorated after Mahathir criticized CAA and the Abrogation of Article 370. In retaliation, India had curbed Palm Oil imports from Malaysia.

Crux of the Matter

Betrayal = Politics?
Malaysian politics saw a number of twists and turns in the last 2 days involving a series of events leading to the collapse of the government.

The ‘Pact of Hope’ alliance came into crisis after rivals within the coalition and opposition politicians held talks to try to form a new government. Mahathir’s Malaysian United Indigenous Party met officials of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the Islamist PAS party.

After unsuccessful talks between the coalition of PM Mahathir’s Party and Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party (PKR) on February 22 and 23, Mahathir’s Malaysian United Indigenous Party quit the coalition leading to the collapse of the government.

On February 24, Anwar Ibrahim denounced a betrayal by saying, “those within my party and outside both were trying to bring down the government.” He also accused Mahathir’s party as ‘traitors’ of plotting to form a new government with the UMNO.

The PM had resigned not because he wanted to outmaneuver Mr. Anwar but because he was disgusted with members of his coalition who had plotted to join with UMNO.

– Lim Guan Eng, Malaysian Finance Minister

Adding to the turmoil Mahathir announced that he had quit his own party. Later he submitted his resignation to the king after which he was asked to remain as an interim PM. Anwar’s party also saw a split as the Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali quit the party with 10 of its elected members.

Foes became Friends
Anwar had served as Mahathir’s deputy during his first term as PM but he was sacked in 1998 after a disagreement on managing the financial crisis at the time. This lead to deteriorating ties between them and later Anwar was jailed for sodomy. In 2018, Anwar and Mahathir united to form a coalition which led to a landslide victory in the general elections and ousted the UMNO party that ruled over 6-decades.

In their alliance, it was agreed that Dr. Mahathir would eventually hand power to Mr. Anwar but the current political scenario suggests that Mr. Anwar’s party would be kept out of power. Dr. Mahathir has repeatedly resisted transferring power to Anwar which resulted in the increased tensions within the alliance.

Indo-Malay Spat
India imports nearly 4.4 million metric tons of palm oil from Malaysia. After strong remarks by the Malaysian PM on India’s decisions of Article 370 and Citizenship Amendment Act restrictions were put on on import of palm oil resulting in huge losses for Malaysia.

In October 2019, Malaysian PM Mahathir had said, ‘India invaded and occupied Kashmir‘ and In December he said, he was ‘sorry to see that India, which claims to be a secular state, is now taking action to deprive some Muslims of their citizenship.’

To compensate this loss, Pakistan had jumped in and had announced to buy more palm oil from Malaysia. Malaysia expressed its desire to solve the trade spat through diplomatic talks in Davos but the Indian Commerce Ministry has repeatedly objected to Mahathir’s statements and refused all discussions.


Mahathir bin Mohamad is a Malaysian politician who previously served as the prime minister of Malaysia. He was appointed prime minister in 1981, retired in 2003, and returned to the office in 2018. He is the chairman of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, as well as a member of the Parliament of Malaysia for the Langkawi constituency in the state of Kedah. Mahathir’s political career has spanned more than 70 years starting with his participation in protests against non-Malays gaining Malaysian citizenship during the Malayan Union through to forming his own party, the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (PPBM), in 2016. More Info

Anwar bin Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician who is currently the president of the People’s Justice Party. Anwar had served as the Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998 and Finance Minister from 1991 to 1998 when he was a member of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). However, he was removed from his post by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and jailed in April 1999. He was the Leader of the Opposition from 2008 to 2015. Anwar was sentenced to five-year imprisonment after a second sodomy conviction in 2015. He received a royal pardon from Sultan Muhammad V and was released from prison in May 2018 in the aftermath of Pakatan Harapan victory in 2018 general election. After which he made a come back as an MP by contesting and winning the Port Dickson by-election. More Info

Pakistan's FATF Drama

In a recent FATF meet to decide Pakistan’s fate, the FATF decided to keep Pakistan on the Greylist. However, if Pakistan is not added back to the whitelist until April 2020, it will by default end up in the Blacklist.

Crux of the Matter

What is FATF Blacklisting?
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body that sets legal, operational, and regulatory, standards and norms to combat terror financing, money laundering, and other associated threats to maintain the integrity of the global financial system. Established in 1989 by G7 members and few other member nations, FATF provides policy suggestions for fighting the crimes mentioned above and the proliferation of mass-destruction weapons.

Countries that do not adhere to the standards and norms set by FATF are issued sanctions and are put on Blacklist. Blacklist includes countries that do not comply with the set norms and support money laundering activities, terror financing and other such activities. These countries are called Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). Currently, North Korea and Iran are on FATF Blacklist.

Greylist countries are those that are a growing threat to international financial security because of the ongoing terror financing and money laundering activities. Greylisting is a warning. A country that fails to put curbs on the mentioned activities, is shifted to Blacklist.

A Greylisted country might face these restrictions:

  • Economic sanctions from supranational bodies like World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc.
  • Loan curbs from supranational bodies.
  • Trade curbs by FATF member nations and other nations.
  • General international curb.

Why Pakistan?
In June 2018, FATF put Pakistan on the Greylist and asked it to strengthen its structural and regulatory environment to properly identify, assess, and combat Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT). FATF presented Pakistan with a 27 point Action Plan, the covering or compliance of which before October 2019 would decrease chances of Pakistan being added in the Blacklist. As of mid-2019, Pakistan did not comply with 25 of 27 action points that included regulatory and legal action against terrorist group leaders, money laundering, and terror financing.

This is not the first time Pakistan is under Greylist. In 2008 and from 2012-15, Pakistan was on the Greylist. In the current greylist period, Pakistan might face the risk of downgrading its credit score by international agencies like Moody’s and Fitch. FATF member nations and other world nations might impose a trade restriction on Pakistan. Economic sanctions could be placed by the World Bank, IMF, etc.

After Pakistan failed to comply with the October 2019 deadline, it was given an extension of another 4 months after which in a FATF meet at Paris, Pakistan’s fate was decided. In the FATF meet in Paris, the organization noted that Pakistan has made progress on 14 of the 27 action plans. Pakistan had sentenced LeT leader Hafiz Saeed a few days before the FATF meeting. With the vote of countries like Malaysia and Turkey, Pakistan saved itself from going to the Blacklist. However, if Pakistan is not added back to the Whitelist before April 2020, it would automatically be blacklisted.

Geopolitical Game
India has been staunch on blacklisting Pakistan after the Pulwama and Balakot attacks. India has alleged Pakistan of financing terrorist groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). US has been putting a lot of pressure on Pakistan as part of US’s agenda to curb terrorism.

China, which is also the chair of the FATF, had always backed Pakistan in FATF. However, China along with Saudi Arabia seems to have aligned with US, European Union, and India to put a leash on Pakistan’s money laundering and terror financing activities.


Lashkar-e-Taiba, literally Army of the Good, is one of the largest and most active Islamist terrorist organizations in South Asia, operating mainly from Pakistan. It was founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal with funding from Osama bin Laden. Its headquarters are in Muridke, near Lahore in Punjab province of Pakistan, and the group operates several training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been accused by India of attacking military and civilian targets in India, most notably the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2019 Pulwama attack on Armed Forces. Its stated objective is to introduce an Islamic state in South Asia and to “liberate” Muslims residing in Indian Kashmir. More Info

Jaish-e-Mohammed, literally “The Army of Muhammad”, is a Pakistan-based Deobandi jihadist Islamic Jihadis group active in Kashmir. The group’s primary motive is to separate Kashmir from India and merge it into Pakistan. Since its inception in 2000, the terror outfit has carried out several attacks in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It projects Kashmir as a “gateway” to the entire India, whose Muslims are also deemed to be in need of liberation. After liberating Kashmir, it aims to carry its ‘jihad’ to other parts of India, with an intent to drive Hindus and other non-Muslims from the Indian subcontinent. It has carried out several attacks primarily in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It also maintained close relations with Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and continues to be allied with these groups. Scholars state that JeM was created with the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which uses it to fight in Kashmir and other places, and continues to provide it backing. The JeM has been banned in Pakistan since 2002, but resurfaced under other names. More Info

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, meaning “Party of Holy Warriors” is a pro-Pakistani militant organization that is active in the regions of Jammu and Kashmir and seeks for the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. Founded by Muhammad Ahsan Dar in September 1989 with support of ISI, it is considered as one of the most important players that evolved the narrative of Kashmiri conflict from nationalism to the religious lines of jihad and is widely deemed as the military wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. Its headquarters are located at Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir and a liaison office is maintained at Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. The group has been designated as a terrorist group by India, the European Union, and the United States. It continues to operate within Pakistan. More Info

Ahead of FATF meet, Hafiz Saeed Sentenced for 11 Years for Terror funding

LeT founder Hafiz Saeed has been convicted by Pakistan’s court under 2 cases of terror funding registered by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and has been sentenced to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail for 11 years.

Crux of the Matter

Who is Hafiz Saeed?
Hafiz Mohammed Saeed is accused of orchestrating the 2008 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. He is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and chief of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD). He denies leading the LeT and the Mumbai terror attacks. After the attacks, India had filed a formal complaint to the United Nations to consider Hafiz and LeT associated with terrorism.

Due to a lack of extradition treaty between India and Pakistan, India’s continuous requests for handing over Hafiz has not been heeded.

Hafiz Sentenced
The anti-terrorism court sentenced Hafiz Saeed and his close aide Zafar Iqbal for 5.5 years and imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 in each of the cases.

The Counter-Terrorism Department had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices for the collection of funds for terrorism financing through properties made and held in the names of Non-Profit Organisations including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc.

The court accepted Saeed’s plea to club all six terror financing cases pending against him in the anti-terrorism court of Lahore and gave the verdict on completion of the trial.

Pakistan’s Rescue Move?
The verdict has come just four days ahead of the crucial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris where Pakistan is going to present its case to get itself off the grey list and prevent itself from getting blacklisted and facing severe sanctions like Iran.

In October 2019 the FATF which is backed by the UNSC had put Pakistan on its ‘Grey’ list for failure to stop funding to terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad and had asked Pakistan to take ‘extra measures’ to stop terror financing.

The FATF meets in Paris on February 16 to assess Pakistan’s implementation of a 27-point action plan that Pakistan had submitted to FATF and that included action plans on money laundering and terror financing.


Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is a Pakistani Islamist militant. In April 2012, the United States announced a bounty of $10 million on Saeed for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 164 civilians. He is listed on India’s NIA Most Wanted list and UN-designated terrorist. India has banned his organizations LeT and JuD as terrorist organizations. The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia, and Australia have also banned Lashkar-e-Taiba. More Info

The Financial Action Task Force is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing. It monitors progress in implementing the FATF Recommendations through “peer reviews” of member countries. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. More Info