Pakistan-Saudi relations under strain amid differences over Kashmir and Iran

There have been murmurs of discontent in Islamabad for some time now over Saudi Arabia not taking a pro-Pakistan stance on Kashmir. The Saudis too have their own laundry list of complaints with Islamabad, mainly linked to the Imran Khan government’s tilt towards Iran.

But the general belief until now was that the two countries, both major players in the Islamic world with a history of close ties, would find ways to manage those differences.

But with geopolitical events moving at a fast pace, driven mostly by China’s unilateral and aggressive moves on several fronts in the cover of the pandemic and a realisation by all key powers in Eurasia that a change of guard in the US is possible a few months down the line, the differences between Riyadh and Islamabad have burst out in the open in an unexpected manner.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi has slammed the Saudi Arabia-led Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) for not extending support to the so-called “Kashmir cause”, warning that a lack of movement on this front could compel Pakistan to seek the support of a separate bloc of Muslim countries.

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