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April 16, 2015

Pakistan ought to fulfil Saudi wish list


April 16, 2015

Pakistan will have to adopt a leader’s role in the Muslim world, especially the Middle East, which has been erupting like many volcanoes ever since the US disrupted its status quo.
The Saudi call to Pakistan for military aid is already too late in the day. Being the only Muslim country possessing nuclear capability and military prowess unmatched to any other Muslim state, Pakistan should have deemed its proactive role much earlier. The Saudi call was actually an SOS signal to Pakistan as the whole region is already engulfed in fires.
Did the US seek approval of the Congress and Senate when George H W Bush, the 41st President, invaded Iraq? Did George W Bush, the 43rd President of the US seek approval of the elected houses when it invaded into confidence the Democrats when it attacked Libya? Did India ask Lok Sabha to send troops to Kashmir to re-occupy it?
The list is long, rather too long. When democratically elected western governments invaded and colonised far off countries, their parliaments endorsed the acts much later. An elected government means it must conduct important business and take its parliamentarians into confidence after the act. At the most, a committee of the house on foreign and military affairs should have been confidentially apprised of the government decision.
In the world at large, historically speaking, militaries always played much wider roles than defending the borders. The frontiers of a country can be far from its demarcated borders. Even Romans launched armies to conquer other domains. They used to be funded by the traders.
Pakistan is duty bound to lend full support – moral, diplomatic, political and military even without a formal request to help out a brother Islamic country. With Saudi Arabia, such is the nature of relationship that Pakistan should have been bold enough to offer its manifold services without asking.
People of Pakistan must recall how the Muslim world helped Pakistan during 1965 War. No Muslim

country blamed Pakistan to have been fingering India on the wrong side prior to the invasion. Few Muslim countries stayed neutral.
Today Pakistan is lucky to have a democratically elected government in power and is being assisted by military leadership which is now more pragmatic than ideological. Pak military has revised its decades-old approaches and set new parameters for its pivotal role to evenly place the keel of the nation’s ship. Pakistan has regained new confidence and strengthened itself after single-handedly defeating its indigenous terrorists who were hell bent to fail the state. Now it is standing on its feet and its prestige among friends has enhanced.
Saudi Arabia happens to be one of the closest friends of Pakistan. It has been soliciting for the life of political leaders of Pakistan. Much before Nawaz Sharif and his family were rescued from behind the bars, Saudi Arabia had requested former dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq to spare Z A Bhutto’s life. Saudi royals have been more far-sighted. Bhutto’s daughter ruled Pakistan twice and the liberated Sharif brothers rose to power for the third time in Pakistan, thanks to Saudi friends.
It is not that Saudi Arabia should be returned such a favor nor it is for reasons of Pakistani manpower which send their remittances home from the Middle East, Pakistan needs to come out of its oyster shell to show to the world its reckoning.
In other Muslim countries also, the non-state actors, as in Pakistan, have shown the way. They have done huge damage in the region and put the country’s prestige at stage as well. Morally and militarily, Pakistan should see that it has a role to play in the whole region and weed out disruption and anarchic forces, especially when it is called to quell such uprisings.
With renewed vigor, Pakistan can take on foreign “non-state actors” head-on. Pakistani forces, whose world view had remained confined to India, should widen its horizon and sphere of influence.
Not only in Yemen, it can weigh the options to send a special squad for liberating girls from Boko Harram in Nigeria. Similarly, Pakistan Navy can take on Somali pirates. Such acts will add to Pakistan’s name as a kind of a savior in the Muslim world. It will also strengthen Pakistan’s muscle.
Regarding funding for such expeditions, there are always resources available from backers, donors and beneficiaries. After culling home-grown non-state actors, both the US and Russia are ready to sell combat helicopters to Pakistan. It will add to Pakistan’s capability. The air sorties for pounding terrorist hideouts have been too costly for Pakistan.
Middle East is already in a power vacuum as the US influence in the region is receding and it is shirking to put its foot on the ground after its debacles in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
Pakistan can be an important player in the region. It will have a legitimacy and support in the world for bringing peace to a strife torn region. It will however take decades for building political and democratic institutions which can’t be grafted upon barren lands in one or two elections. It will take time for the democratic system to work. This is an area where the US was grossly wrong but some other country (read Pakistan) will have to set things right to make way for a new beginning.
On the eastern front, Pakistan should not have big worries. In India, Narendra Modi is a business savvy prime minister. He wants India progress and wants to compete with China. For Pakistan, it would be wiser to let India be on a peace path.
In the meanwhile, Pakistan must act fast in fulfilling Saudi wish list. It will augur well for the whole region and Pakistan’s military prowess will increase manifold.
Pakistan is the only country which can restore order in Yemen. Selling peace lollipops, keeping a neutral stance and sending requests is like a joke, as the Saudi minister has dubbed it. It doesn’t work. A former US Secretary of Defense, Ronal Rumsfeld, had famously said, “If you have a pistol in your upholster and then request, it works.” In fact, he was quoting a king of the underworld, Al Capone, “You can get more with a nice word and a gun than you can with a nice word.”

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