Q1. What is implication of Saudi Arab loan to Pakistan? Q2. How does Saudi Arabia encourage Wahhabism?
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Replied by VIF :Ans 1:Pakistan is in serious economic trouble. As of Oct. 12, net reserves in the State Bank of Pakistan had fallen to $8.1 billion, which is not enough to cover three months' worth of imports. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s frantic efforts to manage the balance of payment crisis finally cut ice with the Saudi government which committed $3 billion to Pakistan as balance of payment support for one year and supply of $3 billion worth of oil on deferred payment for three years. The package totals $12 billion.

Initially, Riyadh refused to lend Pakistan any financial support while putting out serious conditions. The kingdom expects Pakistan to cool its growing security partnership with Iran. Pakistan's increasingly warm relationship with Iran is a more recent development. Saudi Arabia asked for Islamabad’s military support to help Saudi Arabia in its military campaign in Yemen. Riyadh also showed interested in building two major oil refineries in Gwadar, next to Iran’s border, which the former would virtually operate without any intervention from the Pakistani government.

Pakistan went to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF demanded complete transparency from Pakistan on major Chinese projects being implemented in the country under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It made it clear that the organization will demand tough regulations from Pakistan domestically.

The murder of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey change the situation completely. The incidence has somehow convinced the Kingdom that Pakistan’s support will be invaluable in the event of a domestic crisis where the House of Saud or its current leadership is under threat. Riyadh’s policy in terms of allocating Pakistan $6 billion appears to be due to the mounting international pressure on the Kingdom and growing domestic pressure on the Saudi leadership. In such an environment, Pakistan’s military support for the kingdom, which Riyadh would hope to have in times of a domestic crisis, means everything.

The only role the Saudis may find appropriate for Pakistan is its military strength. So, the hidden cost of the Saudi bailout, in all likelihood, is the despatch of Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia. All Pakistani political parties, including the ruling PTI, have been staunchly against sending of Pakistani troops into the war in Yemen.

Pakistan has always given assurances to the Kingdom that the country stands ready to support Riyadh’s domestic security. Pakistan’s top leadership joined a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia, nicknamed as “Davos in the desert,” which was boycotted by various global financial firms and public figures. The Kingdom’s financial support may provide Islamabad some breathing space for the next few months but it’s not going to be enough when it comes to Pakistan avoiding the IMF or dealing with the overall economic challenge that Pakistan currently faces. Since $6 billion are not sufficient, Imran Khan on his visit to China will try to obtain fresh loans to prop up the economy.

Ans 2: Britain's Henry Jackson Society, a think tank, has published a report on foreign funding for extremist branches of Islam. Saudi Arabia has been named as one of the greatest supporters of Radical Islam. In the past 50 years, Riyadh has invested at least 76 billion euros ($86 billion) in Wahhabi extremism, the ideological basis of extremist and jihadist movements throughout the world.

The Saudi clerical establishment, called the ulema, believes and preaches what they believe to be “true Islam.” They and their followers are Salafists, members of the salafiyyah who try to emulate the lives of the Prophet Muhammad and his immediate successors. Salafis are more conservative and do not accept many of the beliefs of Sunni Muslims, and they are more aggressively opposed to any cultural influence impacting Muslim practices. They are greater opponents of mysticism, and reject ideas of saints and their shrines as unacceptable.

The Saudis have been accused of financing Pakistan-based groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani network. The Saudis have sponsored organisations like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), one of the most violent Sunni militant groups.

Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), offshoots of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were outlawed in February via a presidential ordinance. Even though this move came ahead of a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris, it was a good decision to ban terror groups active in Pakistan that have been blacklisted by a UN Security Council committee on sanctions against terrorist groups.

However, ban on these radical groups have been lifted now and explains the nature of opaque and irrational decision-making in Pakistan. However the Sunnis in India have not followed the violent Wahabi style of Islam and there are many seniors in the Muslim community who will not allow that to happen. The only way Saudi could instil a radical thinking in the minds of the Sunni Muslims in India was by the establishment of Wahabi centres. The Wahabis are an extremely orthodox set of Sunni Muslims. As a first step, Saudi sent in several Wahabi preachers into India an Intelligence Bureau report states. The years 2011 to 2013 alone saw a record number of 25,000 Wahabis coming to India and conducting seminars in various parts of the country. With them they brought in Rs 1700 crore in several instalments and used it to propagate the Wahabi style of Islam.

The Saudis are supporting Salafi enterprises in India, including in Kerala. According to a Saudi embassy cable in Delhi, millions of riyals have been reserved for the Islamic Mission Trust of Malappuram (Kerala), the Islamic Welfare Trust and the Mujahideen Arabic College in Palakkad. Two Islamic organisations have benefited from Saudi financial support: The Popular Front of India and the Social Democratic Party of India. Their names do not reflect their religious overtone, but they are propagating a Salafi version of Islam.

Saudi Arabia’s brand of Islam that it has successfully marketed to millions across Asia, Africa and now Europe through generous financial payoffs and donations, has impacted younger population of Muslims in parts of India for last few years.

Posted on November 14, 2018

Topics: Wahhabism, Radical Islam

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