As Pakistan faces complex challenges in eradicating terrorism on domestic and regional levels, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz al Saud’s recent visit to Pakistan illustrated the continuous support and friendship of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, His Excellency Al Awadh Asseri talks to Blue Chip about the outcome of Prince Muqrin’s celebrated visit and how to bolster Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s special relationship
What was the purpose behind Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz al Saud’s recent visit to Pakistan?
Ali Asseri: “The friendship and brotherhood between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan dates back to the day Pakistan came into existence in 1947 as an independent and sovereign country. Ever since, the close bond has evolved into becoming one of the abiding realities joining the two countries in an embrace stretching across religious, social, cultural, economic and defence parameters.
HRH Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz’s recent visit to Pakistan was a reiteration of these close and fraternal relations between the two countries. He travelled to Pakistan as a personal envoy of Khadim ul Harmain al Sharifain King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, bringing a message of unity and solidarity for the leadership, the government and the people of Pakistan. Saudi Arabia holds the unity and sovereignty of Pakistan, which is a leading member of the Muslim Ummah, as crucial to the establishment of lasting peace in the region and is, therefore, committed to upholding the same at all levels of our mutual interaction. HRH Prince Muqrin’s visit was a reflection of this deep-rooted commitment on the part of the leadership and the people of Saudi Arabia.”
Prince Muqrin has played a pivotal role in reducing tensions between Pakistan and India. Can you tell us how he went about it?
AA: “As I said earlier, Saudi Arabia has an abiding interest in a stable and sovereign Pakistan so that it is able to continue playing a pioneering role in the Muslim world and as a member of the international community. It is, therefore, natural that Saudi Arabia would do whatever is possible to extend support to Pakistan and its people.
As a consequence of the recent tension in the region, Saudi Arabia was naturally very concerned. We believe that constructive dialogue is the best way forward. It was in this context that Saudi Foreign Minister HRH Prince Saud al Faisal had visited India. HRH Prince Muqrin, after his visit to Pakistan, also travelled to Afghanistan and India.
Saudi Arabia would like to see normalcy return to the region at the earliest and would do whatever is necessary to make that happen. We were happy with the progress achieved through the composite dialogue by both countries and would like to see the process continue in the future also.”
Can you elaborate on his meetings with President Zardari and Rehman Malik?
AA: “Primarily, HRH Prince Muqrin met the President and the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to convey to them a message of unity and brotherhood from the leadership, the government and the people of Saudi Arabia. He reiterated Saudi resolve to contribute ceaselessly to advance the cause of Pakistan’s security, sovereignty and strength. These would always remain the cornerstones of Saudi policies.”
In light of the recent terrorist attacks, how does Saudi Arabia review Pakistan’s measures to counter terrorism?
AA: “Saudi Arabia has been a victim of terrorism and, therefore, fully understands the magnitude of the crisis that Pakistan is confronted with. We comprehend and appreciate the efforts that Pakistan has made on the road to combating the scourge of terrorism.
Terrorism is a daunting problem and finding a long-term solution is the priority consideration of all countries. In addition to the broad-based measures that Pakistan has already taken, it would be advisable to engage all the neighbouring countries in a regional conference of experts to formulate a consensus blueprint for combating terrorism. This effort should have the total support and backing of the international community in terms of finances and logistics so that it could become an effective weapon to eliminate terrorism and its manifestations from the face of the region, and ultimately from the world.”
Prince Muqrin’s visit is yet another example of Saudi Arabia’s deep friendship with Pakistan. How do you see this relationship developing in the future?
AA: “The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is a distinctive chapter in the annals of inter-state relations and is usually referred to as ideal. Our effort is to further build on it by expanding and deepening the nature and scope of this bond.
It has been my humble endeavour through the years of my stay in Pakistan that we should strengthen this relationship further, particularly in the economic sector, so that the people of the two fraternal countries could reap the benefits. I hope and pray that I would be able to achieve the desired objectives with the active cooperation of the leaderships, the governments and the people of the two countries.”