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India Should Use Saudi Arabia to Set Up Dialogue With Pakistani Military Leaders, Says Former Envoy

The former ambassador was of the view that it was time for both countries to work together in Afghanistan. He also suggested that India should take on the role of trying to bridge the gap between Iran and Saudi.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:February 20, 2019, 10:33 AM IST
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India Should Use Saudi Arabia to Set Up Dialogue With Pakistani Military Leaders, Says Former Envoy
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. (File Photo: Reuters)
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New Delhi: Former ambassador to Saudi Arabia Talmiz Ahmad has said that India must look to working on regional security with visiting crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

"We should not see this visit in the context of the recent development in Pulwama. We have a very substantial relationship with the kingdom that goes back several centuries. It is a very substantial and mutually important relationship. This relationship has very important energy and economic aspects," he said.

He added that up to now, the relationship was purely looked through the prism of energy and economics and that during former PM Manmohan Singh's visit to Saudi Arabia in 2010, counter-terrorism cooperation was discussed. But now, he added, it was time for both countries to talk of regional security.

“A civilian government in Pakistan makes no difference. We need to discuss the Kashmir issue with the Pakistani armed forces. And we know that Saudi kingdom has good ties with the Pakistani armed forces. This is an important aspect which should be looked at. We have to see how to go to the root cause, which is Pakistani armed forces’ affiliation with jihad as state policy. It is the source of insecurity and instability across the region," he said.

The former ambassador was also of the view that it was time for both countries to work together in Afghanistan. "We have never partnered with Saudi in Afghanistan. Saudi is playing a very important back-channel role when it comes to Afghanistan. Indian authorities should set up an engagement platform with Saudi when it comes to Afghanistan. We have the same position — that we want a united Afghanistan that has at peace with itself and is poised for prosperity," Ahmad elaborated.

Touching upon a sensitive issue, Ahmad also suggested India take on the role of trying to bridge the gap between Iran and Saudi. Talking about how the countries view each other as threats, Ahmad said India had solid ties with both nations and that was to be put to good use in terms of easing out tensions between the two nations.

"All visits are part of a process. This particular visit, if it is to have any value, should mark the beginning of India-Saudi collaboration in maintaining regional security and stability. It is something that we have not explored before. The process needs to start and the leadership should be convinced that this is something that needs to be explored," Ahmad said.

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