Saudi-Pakistan bonhomie upsets Iran; Tehran media says Pak a pawn in Saudi Arabia’s ‘sinister game’
Tehran, Feb 25: Pakistan's foreign policy gestures are something that not only irks India but also its other neighbours like Iran and Afghanistan.
At a time when New Delhi has been bashing Islamabad over harbouring a terror outfit like Jaish-e-Mohammed that recently claimed responsibility for the dastardly terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir, killing over 40 CRPF jawans, Tehran and Kabul too have slammed the Pakistani government over instances of attacks on soldiers (Iran too lost its personnel in a terror attack from another Pak-based outfit) and alleged territorial violations.
Pakistan has also been blasted by its neighbours time and again for maintaining good relations with their enemy states and non-state actors. While it is China in case of India, it is Saudi Arabia in case of Iran and the Taliban in case of Afghanistan's elected government.
Recently, while India was left frustrated over its failure to get the UN declare JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist because of China's blockade, Iran too was displeased with the way Pakistan's Imran Khan government has been found handling the Saudis.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), recently visited Pakistan and pledged a massive investment there. He was driven from the airport personally by PM Khan and MBS later showered praise on the host country. Understandably, it did not go down well with Iran, a major enemy of the Saudis in West Asia.
Imran Khan govt disappoints Iran
A piece in Tehran Times titled 'Pakistan a pawn in Saudi's sinister game' hit out at the Khan government saying it eventually did not honour the words it had uttered in having a balanced relation with both Saudi and Iran, two of its close allies, and "followed the same beaten track". It said PM Khan secretly approached the International Monetary Fund for a bailout and sought financial help from countries like China and Saudi Arabia.
"...Saudis doling out money to Pakistan was interesting. They saw an opportunity beckoning them and they grabbed it with both hands. Without knowing, the new Pakistan government had traded its sovereignty for Saudi petro dollars," the piece said.
It also accused Khan of keeping alive the tradition of earlier Pakistan prime ministers who had a clear inclination to the Saudis despite promising a change in the approach of "Naya Pakistan" of his era. It said in response to Khan's high praises for Saudi Arabia as one which "always stood with Pakistan in difficult times", Riyadh announced financial support worth $6 billion to Islamabad.
"Those who were expecting a nuanced and balanced approach to Islamabad's relations with Tehran and Riyadh under Imran Khan were left disillusioned," the Iranian newspaper article said.
It said Saudi Arabia's financial backing to Pakistan had less to do with its friendship and more about promoting its "own sinister agendas" like outsourcing of the Wahhabi ideology and sponsoring extremist ideologies in other nations affiliated to the same ideology. It said the Saudi's effort had to be seen against the backdrop of its rivalry with Iran and its quest in destabilising Tehran.