Pakistan’s Saudi dilemma: the tangled web

Developing Just Leadership

Crescent International

Rabi' al-Awwal 28, 1437 2016-01-09

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

The Bani Saud (aka the House of Saud) that have illegally occupied the Arabian Peninsula, are feeling the heat these days. They have compounded their dilemma by executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr that has evoked international condemnation. They are seeking Pakistan's help as was evident during Saudi FM Adel al-Jubeir's visit, to bail them out. One hopes the Pakistani rulers have better sense.

Islamabad,

Saturday January 9, 2016, 23:19 EST

Saudi conduct is irritatingly predictable. Through sheer arrogance and stupidity, they get into a mess and their first port of call is usually Pakistan. They expect Pakistan to take their chestnuts out of fire for them.

In Pakistan’s case, there is also a new development. Every visitor of any significance must also make pilgrimage to the Chief of Army Staff office (the GHQ), or in case of the more important visitors, to his house. This simply reflects the reality of who is boss in Pakistan.

This was on full display during the January 7 visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to Pakistan. Having got themselves into a royal mess with the uncalled for execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on January 2 that caused an international uproar, the Saudis came scurrying to Pakistan.

Anxious to divert attention from their criminal conduct, the Saudis want to turn this into an Iran-Saudi/Shia-Sunni conflict. It is neither, simply because Sheikh Nimr was unjustly killed notwithstanding the Saudi claim that he was a threat to the kingdom. Sheikh Nimr had called for equal rights for all citizens in the kingdom and an end to the era of intimidation, fear and oppression.

The Najdi Bedouins, the thieves and brigands that have illegally occupied the Arabian Peninsula, are acting like a bunch of frightened mice. They want Pakistan to protect them and for this they want to rent the Pakistan Army. One hopes better sense prevails in Islamabad and the lure of riyals will not trap them into another adventure whose consequences would be frightening for Pakistan.

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Jubeir's visit is to be followed by Defence Minister Muhammad bin Salman descending on Islamabad on Sunday January 10. He will come with a proposal for a defence pact with Pakistan. Will Rawalpindi (not Islamabad) accept the deal? Would the men in uniform be prepared to fight and die for the defence of a decayed and dying monarchy?

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Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, never coherent at the best of times, uttered his usual inanities. “People of Pakistan held the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in high esteem and also had deep respect for theCustodian of the Two Holy Mosques. … (they) will always stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Saudi Arabia against any threat to its territorial integrity and sovereignty,” the lion of Raiwind told Jubeir, while assuring him of Pakistan’s unconditional support.

The Saudi must have felt really reassured since his meeting with one Sharif (Nawaz) was preceded by a call on the other Sharif (Raheel) in Rawalpindi, the real seat of power. The Saudi foreign minister also met Pakistan’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz. His visit to Pakistan lasted a grand total of six hours, barely enough to rush from one meeting to the next.

Rather tellingly, the joint press conference in Islamabad between the two foreign ministers was cancelled for fear of pointed—and embarrassing—questions from the media.

On December 15, Saudi deputy crown prince and Defence Minister Muhammad bin Salman had announced establishment of a 34-nation coalition to “fight terrorism”. Pakistan was included in the group but a Foreign Office spokesman expressed surprise saying they knew nothing about it. A day later, however, a government spokesman said the level of its involvement would be decided after Riyadh shared details about the new military alliance that was seen more as an idiotic idea than anything truly serious.

Not known for any serious thought or intellectual input, the Saudis are prone to making grandiose statements. Not wishing to offend the Saudi visitor and his masters in Riyadh, Nawaz Sharif was polite. He also did not want to close the door on any future asylum he might seek should he find himself thrown out of the job again. So he told Jubeir: “Pakistan welcomes Saudi Arabia’s initiative and supports all such regional and international efforts to counter terrorism and extremism.”

The real gem, however, came following the meeting between Jubeir and Sartaj Aziz. They agreed on engaging the clergy for formulating a narrative against extremism and terrorism. If Aziz were honest, he would have told the Saudi visitor to stop exporting terrorism. Saudi Arabia is a factory for producing terrorists.

Not everyone in Pakistan, however, had taken leave of senses. As the Saudi errand boy landed in Islamabad, protesters from numerous religious parties held a protest demonstration against Pakistan’s decision to join the Saudi-led coalition and execution of Sheikh Nimr.

One wished the rulers claiming a “heavy mandate” would listen to the people for once.

END

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