Now that the Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia at the US-Arab-Islamic Summit has ended, the government is attempting some damage control. A foreign visit that involved two of our closest allies (at least in the past) should have at least featured our leader of government in a more prominent position.
However, this summit saw Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sidelined, Pakistan ignored, with no opportunity to address those gathered, and not even a mention of the sacrifices made by the country in fighting terrorism in President Trump’s speech. After this snub, rather than use the situation to demand from our allies that we be acknowledged, the Foreign Office has chosen to defend President Trump.
Their ridiculous suggestion, that the US President only mentioned victims of terrorism that were not present, is laughable, and completely detached from reality. Mentioning India and omitting Pakistan’s name is a conscious decision, one that can be seen as a clear indication of how the Trump administration sees this picture – Pakistan is fostering terrorism in India, while India’s transgressions in Kashmir are ignored.
Saudi Arabia on its part, has issued a token apology to the 30 states present that did not get an opportunity to speak – Pakistan included – but is that really enough from a country that keeps expecting Pakistan to offer up its military resources in defence of the kingdom?
While Pakistan might see itself as one of the main leaders of the Muslim Ummah, it is clear that others do not. The recent humiliation should be a reality check for our leaders, as well as our security agencies, that we can give as much support and access to the Saudis to our military and society, we will not be acknowledged publicly when it matters.
It is not as if Pakistan had clearly defined its role in the coalition – the former COAS might be leading it, but if it is a targeted alliance against Iran, Pakistan should have steered well clear of all major operations. The coalition got us no laurels from the global community.
And while the government has tried to play this double game of trying to keep both Saudi Arabia and Iran happy, neither of them seem too pleased. At the end of it all, Pakistan has gained nothing in terms of foreign policy. And if the officials at the Foreign Office cannot defend Pakistan, there is no chance that countries like Saudi Arabia and the US will either.