Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pakistan - The Saudi led military alliance

Sleepwalking into a quagmire Of late, the PML-N government is pursuing a course of action that undermines Pakistan’s status as a neutral referee in the Muslim world. A perception is gathering strength that the country is being taken for granted by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Deputy Crown Prince announced a military alliance and Pakistan’s flag was shown along with those of other countries who joined the alliance. Soon after the alliance was announced in December 2015, Sartaj Aziz gave unsatisfactory answers to the Senate which showed he was as ignorant about the nature and scope of the alliance as the other Senators. To the Senate Chairman’s comment that: “So you have joined a military alliance about which you are still foggy,” Aziz claimed: “We will come to parliament once details are available.” During the next year-and-a-half , he had nothing to tell the Parliament on the issue. Suddenly, the government announced it had given an NOC to former COAS Sharif to take over as the chief of the Saudi-led alliance.
It seems the government is continuing to kowtow to the Kingdom. Iran has publicly expressed its displeasure over Pakistan’s move to allow its former COAS to lead the alliance cobbled together by Saudi government for purposes still kept secret.
Once the government has accepted to provide a military chief to an alliance with sectarian connotations, Saudi Arabia will dictate the next moves. The claim that the alliance will only go to the support of governments who ask for it is highly naive. To start with, the formulation allows the coalition troops to enter Yemen if requested by the Saudi supported regime or to take action to suppress the majority Shias in Bahrain at the instance of the Saudi supported Sunni ruler. Pakistan must not be a party to the sectarian wars being fought in the Middle East.
As things stand there is no need for a military alliance of the Muslim countries. Better spare energies for putting life in the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) to pressurise India to hold talks with Pakistan, and to tell Israel to end illegal construction and hold meaningful talks for an independent state of Palestine.

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