• Imran Khan leaves for Saudi conference saying #Pakistan ’desperate’ for loans | Reuters
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-saudi-khashoggi-pakistan/imran-khan-leaves-for-saudi-conference-saying-pakistan-desperate-for-loa

    Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan left for Saudi Arabia to attend an investment conference boycotted by other leaders over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    • Despite PR duress, Saudi $6bn to Pakistan comes with strings | Asia Times
      http://www.atimes.com/article/despite-pr-duress-saudi-6bn-to-pakistan-comes-with-strings

      Fermer les yeux sur le financement saoudien de groupes armés du Balochistan pakistanais chargés de mener des opérations contre l’Iran en Iran, et amener le Pakistan à s’impliquer plus au Yémen.

      Balochistan is of strategic interest to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, bordering the Islamic Republic and located north of the Arabian Sea.

      Saudi Arabia has faced allegations of backing anti-Shiite jihadist groups in Balochistan, namely Jundullah and Jaish al-Adl, and a heightened influence could be dangerous for Pakistan’s security.

      “If you increase investment, it is not just money that pours in. With the money comes influence,” analyst Siddiqa said.

      “It’s hard to imagine a $6 billion gift with no strings attached,” said Michael Kugelman, a scholar on Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

      “There’s a very good chance Saudi Arabia placed some type of conditions on this support. Riyadh may have made it quite clear that Pakistan will need to rein in its recent efforts to position itself as a neutral actor in the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry,” Kugelman said.

      “Pakistan has an Iran problem and a Saudi problem. [The Pakistani military] is allowing the Saudis to build up their capacity in Balochistan, which is in effect a certain kind of encirclement around Iran,” said Siddiqa.

      Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have maintained a defense partnership since 1983, though it is very difficult to pinpoint the exact number of Pakistani personnel in the kingdom. According to Kamal Alam of the London-based think tank RUSI, there are at least 1,200 Pakistani trainers in various Saudi security and military sectors.

      A source close to the Pakistani military said the number is far higher, however. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he told Asia Times there are upwards of 7,000 Pakistani military personnel in the kingdom.

      “One of the big questions coming out of this new deal is whether Riyadh has now asked Islamabad to operationalize that military presence and be willing to join Saudi military efforts in Yemen,” Kugelman said.

      “Islamabad has long resisted this ask from Saudi Arabia, but with this financial assistance Islamabad is now getting, Riyadh has more leverage,” he added.

      According to a political source briefed on the matter but who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject, the Pakistani armed forces have been under mounting pressure from the Saudis to join the conflict in Yemen.