Sunday, August 9, 2020
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Concessional Detour?

When the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to India and Pakistan was in the works, the Saudis were gently told by New Delhi that his landing in New Delhi soon after his Pak visit wouldn’t make for good optics. This was long before the Pulwama terror attack for which India holds Pak-based JeM responsible. Given the bitterness in New Delhi-Islamabad relations, the wise counsel to Riyadh was to ensure the Prince wouldn’t wing his way to New Delhi straight from Islamabad. While it’s not known if the Saudis heeded this advice while planning their leader’s south Asia/South East Asia swing—it included visits to Malaysia and Indonesia too. With visits to these countries postponed, it means the Crown Prince will be making his way to New Delhi after Islamabad though he’ll return to his country for a few hours before flying down to India. While it’s not known if this move is meant as a concession to his hosts in New Delhi, one thing is for sure—the Pulwama terror strike is set to overshadow any other item on the bilateral agenda.