Saudi Arabia hopes that the situation between Pakistan and India can be de-escalated and resolved peacefully, said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.
In a February 20 interview to India Today, he said the kingdom has been very clear about the fact that any terrorism, anywhere, for any reason is unacceptable. We were one of the first countries to come out to strongly condemn the terrorist attack and loss of life in Kashmir, he reminded the journalist interviewing him.
He said Saudi Arabia’s aim is to try to enhance international cooperation to rid the world of this scourge.
When questioned about why there was not effort on Saudi Arabia’s part to directly name Pakistan for the Pulwama attack in which 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers lost their lives, he said he isn’t sure who is responsible for the cross border terrorism and therefore is not in a position to address the issue. “But I can tell you that we have worked to designate a number of terrorist organisations, including some in Pakistan as terrorist groups and they are designated as such by the UN, US, and other countries too,” said Al-Jubeir.
When asked again to comment on India’s allegations of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, he said he is not aware of the details of the case and cannot comment. Saudi Arabia stands against terrorism in all shapes and forms and has been a victim of terrorism itself, he explained.
“It has been our hope that the situation between India and Pakistan be de-escalated and resolved peacefully,” he said. But under no circumstances do we support any kind of terrorist attacks against innocent people anywhere, he said.
When asked which lens Saudi Arabia sees the Kashmir issue through (Pakistan’s or India’s), Al-Jubeir said they see it through the UN’s lens. We signed the UN resolution on the issue, he said.
We urge the two countries to sit at the negotiation table and resolve the issue amicably, preserving the interest of the Kashmiri people, Indian and Pakistan, he explained. Where there is goodwill and frank, honest dialogue, a resolution can be achieved, said the foreign minister.
He also cautioned that for anyone to doubt relations between Saudi Arabia and India would be naïve. He also listed the ways in which the two countries were interconnected – trade ties and investment.
When asked whether if India could provide concrete evidence that the ISI and Pakistan Army had sponsored terrorism in India, and whether it would then be okay for India to launch an attack on terrorist bases in Pakistan, the foreign minister said “We would have to see how it goes”. He discussed the channels present between India and Saudi Arabia, security channels through which they exchange information. These channels have helped prevent terrorist attacks, he said.
Al-Jubeir also declined to comment on the issue when it was compared to that of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Is what’s good for Qatar not good for Pakistan, asked the interviewer.
However, he did comment on Iran’s assertions that Pakistan was responsible for an attack on a border guard bus that claimed 27 lives. It is ironic that the chief sponsor of terror in the world would assign the responsibility on an outsider, he said, echoing the statement he made against the country during a press conference in Islamabad. He said it was trying to deflect its internal problems by assigning the blame on Pakistan.
He also called the Jamal Khashoggi murder a “terrible mistake”. Officials of the Saudi government acted on their own without orders and exceeded their power and murdered a Saudi citizen at the Saudi consulate and that is a terrible mistake, he said. He went on to explain the investigation into the murder.