Pakistan filling Saudi void left by departing Westerners

Thursday, June 26, 2003

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia will import an increasing number of Pakistani military and security advisers and personnel.

Gulf defense sources said Riyad agreed to permit additional Pakistanis for a number of projects as well as to replace some of the Westerners who have left the kingdom over the last year.

Pakistan is regarded as a leading ally of Saudi Arabia. Islamabad helps train Saudi military and security personnel as well as help operate aircraft and naval vessels, Middle East Newsline reported.

Moreover, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have engaged in a joint venture to produce light weapons and ammunition in the kingdom. The sources said the two countries plan to expand the project to include mortar and heavy munitions.

Islamabad has reported that Saudi Arabia has increased manpower levels for Pakistani nationals for construction projects. They included the construction of a transmission line from the Saudi cities of Mecca to Taif.

Saudi Arabia has instituted a law that requires that 35 percent of the manpower by foreign companies be composed of Saudi nationals. But the law has been relaxed to facilitate major projects in communications, energy and the military. Pakistani nationals also serve as doctors, paramedics and nurses in the kingdom.

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