'Edgy' Pak concerned over Dr. Singh's 'successful' Saudi trip

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Islamabad, Mar.2 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's recent visit to Saudi Arabia is being seen by the Pakistani media as a deliberate attempt by New Delhi to elbow Islamabad's relationship with its long time ally Riyadh.

An editorial in one of Pakistan's leading English dailies said that Singh's visit has brought to light the shifts taking place in Saudi Arabia's relations with its south Asian neighbourhood.

The editorial in The Nation that Saudi Arabia has been a long time 'friend' nation of Pakistan and pointed out that Islamabad has even allowed a degree of intrusive access to this 'special ally'.

"Saudi envoys have on many occasions played critical roles in Pakistan's domestic political scene and there has been an unwritten norm that public criticism of the Kingdom was not acceptable. After all, Saudi Arabia has come to Pakistan's rescue unflinchingly in times of need and crises," the article said.

The editorial also criticised the political leadership for failing to ink an 'Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners', which India managed to do during Dr. Singh visit.

It may be noted that India has also signed an extradition treaty with the Saudi Arabia.

"How come Pakistan has not been able to get such agreements with Saudi Arabia? We hear of Pakistanis being beheaded frequently in Saudi Arabia and often for crimes which would not carry the same punishment in Pakistan. So, why have we been unsuccessful in getting an agreement on the transfer of sentenced prisoners or have we simply not tried?" the editorial said.

Describing Riyadh's commitment to double the crude oil supply to India and to move towards an energy partnership with New Delhi as a 'major success' for the Indians, the article said it was unfortunate that Saudi leaders chose to discuss Pakistan's internal issues with the visiting Indian contingent.

"We know the Saudis mean well for Pakistan and are disturbed by what they see the Pakistani leaders doing - as are most Pakistanis. That is what was undoubtedly behind Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal's remark that the Pakistani political leaders should unite and ensure that extremism does not find its way back into the country. But the timing and the symbolism have caused distress in Pakistan, especially since the Indians have been seeking Saudi pressure on Pakistan for their own ends," it said.

The article also questioned Riyadh's silence over the 'maltreatment' of Muslims in India, adding that it clearly marks a shift in its focus in South Asia

"It is strange that the Saudis chose to remain silent on the issue of the maltreatment of Muslims in India, especially their official victimisation in Gujarat, and in Occupied Kashmir. Clearly, there has been a shift in the Saudi direction in south Asia and Pakistan must take note to reassert its special relationship with Saudi Arabia," the editorial concluded. (ANI)

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