GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Pakistan and Gulf Region – Historical Perspective and Future Trends
Paper Proposal Text :
Religious affinity, geographical proximity, Pakistan’s strategic location and its lead role in promoting the Islamic states’ political and strategic interests as well as continuous efforts by Pakistani expatriate population to develop infrastructure and other institutions have made it a natural ally of the neighbouring Gulf States. Pakistan despite its economic and social problems in recent years remains the ultimate hope for these countries.
2. The growing distrust between the Western powers led by the United States and conflict of social value system with these Islamic states make Pakistan the obvious choice for the Gulf rulers to safeguard security of their countries, defend territorial integrity and promote their economic well being on long term basis. Among the constituents of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia and UAE have the closest of relations with Pakistan in all spheres of activity. However, Pakistan’s engagement with Oman is, however, overshadowed by the India factor.
3. The Gulf States’ desire to match the Iranian influence in neighbouring Muslim countries particularly Pakistan, attracts them to develop yet closer relations with Pakistan. Pakistan’s geo-strategic location, at times, has had placed Pakistan in tight corner as during cold war, the United States used Pakistan in proxy war against the Soviet Union, in 1979 Pakistan had to assume role of a frontline state. More recently Pakistan was made to reverse its role in Afghanistan and now its fighting a war against Taliban. The Gulf countries have their own interests in the region due to growing Chinese influence, nuclear ambition of Iran, terrorism in Afghanistan, and the expanding market of India. Economic ascendancy and Security are the core objectives of the Gulf countries in the region. Pakistan’s role in war against terrorism and its strategic location will continue to gain attention and remain in focus for all the Gulf countries.
4. The Gulf countries have both the geo-strategic as well as geo-political interest in Pakistan. For the GCC countries Pakistan is a strategic balancer vis a vis Iran. China needs Pakistan because Pakistan’s influence in GCC can provide it transit trade route for western region, energy corridor to import oil from the Gulf region, naval facilities on the Arabian Sea coast to protect its energy supply lanes from the Middle East.
5. Pakistan maintains close military ties with all Gulf States specially Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Bahrain. It provides extensive support, arms and training for the Military machines of these countries. Pakistan took active part in the liberation of Kuwait along with coalition forces in 1991. After the end of the War, Pakistani Army Engineers were involved in a programme of mine clearance in the country. The defense cooperation between Bahrain and Pakistan is also very strong, Pakistan had been collaborating since long in their defense sectors, particularly air and naval forces and are in the process of linking an agreement to give it a final shape that would also include procurement of defense related equipment. Recently, Pakistan origin Police men played an important role in controlling uprising in Bahrain. UAE benefitted from Pakistan’s military process since 1968, much before it formally was transformed from a crucial state to an independent state. Its airforce had Pakistani airforce officers as Chief.
6. On the economic side, Pakistan enjoys special and cordial relations with the Gulf countries, formalized through bilateral and multilateral cooperation on trade, security and economic development. It also benefits through remittances coming from its diaspora in the Gulf and also through the Gulf investments towards development projects in Pakistan, mainly in telecommunication, construction, agriculture and energy sectors. The Gulf countries are Pakistan’s main trading partners. Pakistan depends largely on Gulf States for oil imports. Pakistan exports bulk of its traditional exports items to the Gulf. Negotiations are ongoing between Pakistan and the Gulf countries to sign a multilateral Free Trade Agreement.
7. The Strategic Dialogues between GCC and Pakistan have very high significance on issues of bilateral interest, further strengthening of relations, regional security and stability. Pakistan and GCC have agreed to hold annual meetings of the Strategic Dialogue at Foreign Ministers level, Free Trade negotiations between Pakistan and the GCC and implementation of the Framework Agreement for Economic Cooperation as top agenda items.
8. One of the most important factors in Pakistan’s relationship with the Gulf States is the presence of a sizeable expatriate population in these states. Approximately 4 million Pakistanis in the Gulf are contributing to economy of Gulf countries. In times of economic recession, struggling Pakistani government is heavily relying on foreign exchange through remittances.
9. Pakistan’s economy is under pressure due to the War on Terror intensifying for last four years in Afghanistan. Since 2006, the War has spread like a contagion into settled areas of Pakistan that has so far, cost the country more than 35,000 citizens, 3,500 security personnel, destruction of infrastructure, internal migration of millions of people, erosions of investment climate, nose diving of production and growing unemployment and above all brought economic activity to a virtual standstill in many part of the country. Pakistan had never witnessed such devastating social and economic upheaval in its industry, even after dismemberment of the country by direct war. During the last 10 years the direct and indirect cost of war on terror incurred by Pakistan amounted to $67.93 billion or Rs.5037 billion.
10. The recent Arab spring and subsequent incidents and their basic motives has given a chance for Gulf countries to come further closer to Pakistan as in past, Pakistan through its military and bilateral cooperation has tried to shield these countries from various external and internal threats. The GCC is now looking towards East and recent joint military exercises of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (Al-Samsaam IV) are one of its examples.
11. The Gulf today is establishing its role as a unified powerful regional bloc and Pakistan stands as a strong, trusted and credible support with most cordial and brotherly relations based on the aspiration and sentiments of their peoples, shared history, religion and cultural affinities.