Indian Air Force’s first-ever counter-terror operation deep inside Pakistan has sparked celebrations across India. While experts are saying that India’s ‘soft nation’ days are thing of past, citizens are feeling that finally, we can give it back! But is bombing Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Balakot terror camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa enough? Even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj says that New Delhi doesn’t wish to see further escalation, Pakistani armed forces think otherwise. More so, if targeting terrorists is need of hour, we must look at the core issue. And the problem lies not only with numerous seminaries working on Pakistani soil, but the funding they receive. And answer lies 2,500 km away in Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, sensational revelations by the WikiLeaks confirmed what many knew all along. That the petro-dollars of the Saudi kingdom were being routed to various Sunni terror outfits in Pakistan.
“While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) takes seriously the threat of terrorism within Saudi Arabia, it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority. Due in part to intense focus by the USG over the last several years, Saudi Arabia has begun to make important progress on this front and has responded to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United States through proactively investigating and detaining financial facilitators of concern,” said the WikiLeaks cabal.
But what was concerning for India and remains the issue of worry is this part that still holds true. “Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. Continued senior-level USG engagement is needed to build on initial efforts and encourage the Saudi government to take more steps to stem the flow of funds from Saudi Arabia-based sources to terrorists and extremists worldwide.”
There has been change of guard or rather king at the House of Saud, but the principal understanding with Pakistan remains same. Saudi Arabia not exactly loves Pakistan but it needs Pakistan. According to a conservative estimate, there are more than 60,000 Pakistani soldiers working in Saudi Arabia. In case there is a breakdown of bilateral ties, Riyadh won’t have enough soldiers for its military establishment.
Even if the House of Saud is not directly involved in terror-funding, Saudi Arabia has enough rich sympathisers who would send or arrange monetary support for these terror outfits. So while India rejoices over the diplomatic success for putting ‘Pulwama terror attack’ in the joint statement, we must not forget the $20-billion deal between Saudi Arabia nd Pakistan and what Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said in Islamabad ‘'consider me Pakistan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia'. As long as the non-actors in Pakistan have either overt or covert support from Saudi Arabia, the ‘New India’ must tread this path carefully.