Are Modi’s trips to the Gulf States an attempt to sabotage Pakistan’s ties with them?

The Indian media, along with the policy makers in New Delhi, were overjoyed by the visit – hailing it as a strategic attempt to further isolate Pakistan – its arch nemesis – from its “brothers” in the Gulf, the visit is said to have opened further avenues for New Delhi

Some Indian officials also believe that India’s efforts with the Middle East are attempts to de-hyphenate its relations from Pakistan as the Gulf states have often brought up Pakistan during their discussions with India

In hindsight, Modi’s visits offer more than mere strategic depth against its neighbour

Saudi Arabia hosts more than three million Indians, while Riyadh caters to one fifth of India’s annual oil needs

In recent years, they have also signed various trade agreements, turning India into Saudi Arabia’s fourth largest trading partner

Additionally what might seem as a jibe towards Pakistan and its refusal to join the Saudi-led coalition, PM Modi was also quick in commending King Salman for his efforts in uniting Muslim countries to combat terrorism

Even with these enormous figures the relationship is still complex

After acknowledging Pakistan’s importance, Saudi Arabia invited PM Nawaz Sharif and General Raheel Sharif, along with PM Modi, to possibly discuss the Indian PM’s visit amongst other issues

 On the other hand, a realistic approach is that the Indian economy is performing significantly better than Pakistan’s and thus provides better investment opportunities

For Pakistan, the various outcomes of Modi’s visit might seem worrisome

But for India, it is nothing less than realpolitik

Modi’s aggressive Middle East and South Asia policy is ominous for Islamabad

With his recent visit to the UAE – another close ally of Pakistan – coupled with the positive outcomes of his Saudi visit, Modi is trying to take advantage of the fragile political situation in the Middle East

In doing so, Modi is making sure that Pakistan’s support in the Gulf witnesses a sharp decline

Unfortunately, Modi might not have to work too hard to make that happen

PM Nawaz and Pakistan have recently done enough to face the ire of its allies in the Gulf by declining to take active part in the Saudi-Yemen conflict; something good for Pakistan, but bad for the Kingdom

Pakistan has also declined to take sides between Riyadh and Tehran, making things worse for their Saudi ‘brothers’

One might assume that things between Riyadh and Islamabad have hit an all-time low, yet, some foreign policy experts in Islamabad believe India might still find it hard to fill the gap left by Pakistan as Pakistan provides an ideological playing field for Saudi ventures

But things often go south – as history has proven – with regional or global politics

India faces a rocky road in attempt to establish smooth ties with the Gulf countries (especially Saudi Arabia) considering their desire to connect with Central Asia via Afghanistan and Iran

The equation is tricky

India might also face a similar conundrum when it comes to balancing ties between Tehran and Riyadh

However, one thing that goes in Modi’s favour is India’s outlook of a secular state, with little or no traces of Muslim sectarian conflicts, giving Saudi Arabia less to think about when it comes to establishing fruitful ties with New Delhi

With India having signed a number of deals with Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it seems that the only role Pakistan is willing to take is that of a mere spectator

It can either despise these deals and carry on its path in a downward spiral, or take bold domestic and foreign policy decisions to emulate India in the region

This leads to the question, Should Pakistan really be worried by Indian advances in the Gulf? In theory and ideology – yes

But in practice – no

Pakistan is facing countless woes of its own, both politically and economically, and can hardly spare time for things going on in the Gulf vis-à-vis India

What Pakistan should be worried about is India’s rapid growth in trade, security and infrastructure as well as how, very soon, it will leave behind its ‘over-protective’ and ‘insecure’ neighbour

Date:08-Apr-2016 Reference:View Original Link