Time to beef up Saudi-India front |
Saudi Gazette - 29 August, 2012
Author: Javid Hassan
The two-day summit of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that kicks off in Tehran later this week comes against the backdrop of escalating tension in the Gulf region.
With its decision to send Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah to Tehran for the NAM summit, the Saudi leadership has demonstrated its maturity and pragmatism in recognizing realities on the ground and their interplay in a fluid political scenario.
Viewed in this context, Saudi Arabia today regards India as its strategic ally in promoting regional peace and stability.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will participate in the summit and also address one of its sessions. The theme of the conference is “Lasting peace through joint global governance,” that seeks, among other objectives, to curtail the US hegemony.
Much as the US would have liked Saudi Arabia, India and other participants to boycott the event, non-aligned countries have sent a clear signal that their mutual interest supersedes other considerations.
“Today, NAM seeks to articulate the concerns of the developing countries regarding the contemporary global challenges facing the international community such as food security, protection of the environment and the reform of the institutions of global governance,” declared Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai at a media briefing.
“Peace and security is, indeed, our primary concern given just how important the entire West Asia, the Gulf region in particular, is for India’s security and economy, both in terms of oil imports and our exports.
So, this is our own concern and we don’t have to take anybody else’s concern as priority,” he said.
It is, therefore, significant that Tehran has agreed to India’s proposal to investment in the Chabahar port, which will provide Delhi the access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami had mooted the idea during his visit to India in 2003 when a trilateral understanding was reached.
The broad agenda of the two-day talks would focus on economic cooperation among the non-aligned countries, support for Palestine, and keep the US influence at bay in the emerging new world order.
On the sidelines of the summit, Manmohan Singh will hold talks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on issues ranging from terrorism and drug smuggling to fake Indian currency notes and civilians languishing in Pakistan jails on charges of spying.
Saudi Arabia can wield its influence over Pakistan by cooperating with India in their mutual interest of peace and regional security. Singh had brought up this issue during Zardari’s visit to India on April 8, when the prime minister had stressed the need for Pakistan to crack down on subversive elements there, so that India could move forward in their bilateral relations.
Saudi Arabia and India can play a major role in maintaining peace and stability in the region, the former by involving Islamabad in the joint endeavor to crack down on militant outfits like Al-Qaeda and Taliban, which threaten security of all the three countries. India, on the strength of its relations with Iran, can exercise its moderating influence on Tehran and persuade the leadership there to respect its international obligations concerning the use of nuclear energy.
In attending the summit, both Riyadh and New Delhi have proved that this is not the time for brinkmanship but for collective action.
— The writer is a political commentator based in Bangalore, India.