Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pakistan - Time to pull plug on Islamic Alliance

The Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia has us all wondering if the purpose was to assure the King of support in so-called Gulf Crisis or whether we are going to play mediator. PM Nawaz is said to have been categorical in his response to King Abdullah. Pakistan will in no way be choosing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. If this is true, we welcome the development.
Pakistan’s Parliament had barred the government from taking sides in the Middle East conflict largely due to the consequences we have had to face when fighting someone else’s war. Thus the government should ensure that the parliamentary resolution is implemented, while, perhaps, lecturing the Saudis on just how democratic governments take decisions. Thought it might not be so easy to make King Abdullah grasp this last point. Furthermore, the Qatar boycott, for which Riyadh is seeking our support, is actually four Sunni Muslim countries cutting ties with another Sunni Muslim country because of the latter’s relations with a Shia Muslim country. This surely has to be the final nail in the coffin of the ‘one Ummah’ concept that we have always been fed.
For Pakistan, becoming a part of any such alliance will threaten the peace at home. We are already engaged in a war against militants and the nation needs unity. Pakistan becoming a part of a sectarian alliance in the region might cause a divide within the country since our population comprises both Shia and Sunni Muslims. Therefore, we should not let our territory be exploited by those who are playing power games. Peace and security at home should be our first priority. It is about time Pakistan pull out of the Islamic Military alliance ‘against terrorism’ and Gen Raheel return home. We now know that it is a ‘Sunni alliance’ established to isolate Iran under the garb of countering terror. So what is he waiting for?
Saudi Arabia has been trying to garner support in the name of protecting Muslim holy sites. We should understand that there is no imminent threat to these — unless, of course one counts the sudden springing up of Hello Kitty outlets — and that this narrative has been used by the Saudis to fuel Muslim sentiments. The ruling regime doesn’t want Yemen to become an axis of resistance against the kingdom, which is why it is playing victim in the war against Houthi rebels. It is Saudi Arabia that is bombing the civilian population in Yemen, where 16 million people are in immediate need of human assistance because the blockades have caused a food emergency. We should not get involved in what is happening between Saudi Arabia and any other country. We should also refuse to be a part of diplomatic boycotts. It is time to send the message loud and clear. Are you listening, Mr Prime Minister?

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