Saudi Investment in Pakistan Could Further Destabilize Its Border With Iran

Saudi Investment in Pakistan Could Further Destabilize Its Border With Iran
Portraits of Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan line a highway outside Islamabad ahead of the crown prince's visit to tout Saudi investment in Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

QUETTA, Pakistan—Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Pakistan last week and promptly pledged twice the amount of Saudi investment in infrastructure that observers had expected: $20 billion. Though it may not all be delivered, the promised money signaled the growing Saudi role in major infrastructure development in Pakistan.

Until last year, such projects were being funded prominently, and almost exclusively, by China. But last fall, soon after Prime Minister Imran Khan took office, Pakistan unexpectedly invited Saudi Arabia to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC—the big-ticket Pakistan component of China’s huge Belt and Road Initiative, which was previously only a bilateral arrangement between Islamabad and Beijing. Riyadh was happy to accept the invitation, as it wants to expand its economic influence in Pakistan by helping fund a slate of ambitious infrastructure projects, including a major oil refinery on the Arabian Sea.

CPEC, with a collection of infrastructure projects totaling $62 billion, aims to connect Xinjiang province in western China with the new Gwadar port in southern Pakistan. Cash-strapped Pakistan opened CPEC up to Saudi Arabia because it desperately wants a bailout package from Riyadh. China, for its part, has welcomed the Saudi investment.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.