India and Saudi Arabia Sign Defense Cooperation Pact

The agreement will lead to expanded defense cooperation between New Delhi and Riyadh.

By Ankit Panda

India and Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Defense Cooperation on Wednesday in New Delhi. The MoU is the result of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud’s visit to India. al Saud is the crown prince, the deputy prime minister, and the defense minister of Saudi Arabia. His visit to India marks the highest-level visit by a Saudi leader to India since King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud visited the country in 2006.

The agreement was signed between Dr. Nizar Bin Obaid Madani, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Jitendra Singh, Indian Minister of State for Defense. The two sides additionally discussed a range of bilateral issues and intend to deepen their cooperation as part of their strategic partnership. According toLivemint, the MoU “will allow exchange of defense-related information, military training and education as well as cooperation in areas varying from hydrography and security to logistics.”

The first indicator that India and Saudi Arabia were serious about cooperating on defense matters came in 2012 when the first meeting of the India-Saudi Arabia joint committee on defense cooperation took place in New Delhi. Back then, the two expressed interest in defense exchanges and increasing military-to-military contacts. The 2012 meeting was spearheaded by Saudi Major General Suleiman Saleh al-Khalifa, Chief of Armed Forces Operations.

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Making of the Sindhi identity: From Shah Latif to GM Syed to Bhutto

BY NADEEM F. PARACHA

In a nutshell, between the 1930s and mid-2000s, the existential narrative that furnished the Sindhi identity in Pakistan was this: Sindhis were of a land and society that was largely shaped by the deeds of hundreds of Sufi saints (especially Shah Abdul Latif), who preached tolerance and co-existence, and were suspicious of those who were stripping Islam of its spiritual essence, while replacing it with a creed based on a rigid worldview and an obsession with rituals.

This narrative was essential for Sindhis because it helped them find an anchor for their ethnic identity and sense of history; especially in a country where (according to them) the state was attempting to bypass centuries-old identities based on ethnicity, on the back of a largely cosmetic ideology based on a myopic understanding of the ethnic, religious and sectarian complexities of Pakistan.

The 19th century British traveller, Richard Burton, in his prolific accounts of Sindh, described the province to be one of the calmest regions of British India, with its own unique blends of faith.

Writing in the mid-1800s, Burton described Sindh as a land dotted by numerous shrines of Sufi saints; frequented in large numbers, by both the Muslim, as well as the Hindu inhabitants of the region.

He described Sindhi Muslims to be somewhat different (in their beliefs and rituals) from the Muslims of the rest of India.

According to Burton, even the Hindus of Sindh were different because their Hinduism was more influenced by Buddhism.

Birth of the existential Sindhi identity

When Punjab was being ripped apart by violent and gruesome clashes between the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Sindh remained peaceful.

In Interpreting the Sindh World, Vazira Fazila writes that Sindh’s British Governor, Francis Mudie, reported that the Hindus of Sindh were likely to stay behind (in Pakistan) because there was no chance of communal violence in the province that had exhibited ‘great communal harmony’.

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