Now how bad can it be for a president to be criticised by a monarch who is alleged to have asked the Americans to bomb Iran and whose countrymen are still thought to be one of the leading donors to terror organisations like Al-Qaeda? Well, that’s what the recent US intelligence documents uploaded on WikiLeaks suggest.
To a lot of Pakistanis, the leaks were a big fat disappointment. For example, a colleague of mine was wagging a finger at me saying, ‘NFP, these new leaks will expose your president in the worst way possible.’ He was ‘my president’ and not my colleague’s because the guy’s into … ahem …the concept of modern-day caliphs as heads of state. Well, come the day of the leaks and I saw him all glum and gloomy. Sure the president was taken to task by the Saudi monarch according to the leaked documents. Nevertheless what the monarch said about Mr Zardari would have been music to the ears of all the Saudi-philes out there but only if the leaked documents had stopped at that.
What gave my pro-caliphate colleague a sudden bout of embarrassment, inducing depression, was how the same documents then go on to quote many Arab leaders (including the said monarch), asking the US to conduct aerial raids against Iran. Now, I am no fan of the current Iranian leadership; in fact, I find Ahmadinejad suffering from verbal diarrhoea against the West and all things western. However, it is actually this trait of his that has turned him into a hero of sorts among Muslims everywhere.
What a shock then it was for my colleague to read that Arab monarchs had actually instigated their American friends to bomb a fellow Muslim country. But, really, why the surprise? I mean, hasn’t it been clear all along that Arab leadership has always been repulsed by Iran, especially after the 1979 revolution? The truth is, and this goes for a lot of groups with sympathies for Iran in Pakistan too, no matter how loudly they exhibit their spite against Israel, they remain suspect in the eyes of a majority of Arab leaders, or worse, targets of various extremist groups.
I don’t think my pan-Islamic colleague’s shock was due to his surprise over the revelations, because everyone knows about the historical fissures that divide Arabs and Persians. Instead, he was stunned by the realisation that lofty caliph-oriented daydreams that men like him hold so dear would sound ridiculous now that the world knows that one set of Muslim leaders want the ‘infidels to bomb another Muslim country.
He was itching to let loose the tirade that people like him usually unleash once they do not agree with something: It’s a trick. A conspiracy and propaganda against Muslims, blah. But how could he? Not this time. Because had he termed these documents a ploy by Zionists to ridicule Arab leaders, it would also mean that the Saudi monarch’s criticism of Mr Zardari too was not true. Anyway, even if we forget what the Arabs blurted out against Iran, there is an inherent irony in the statement that sees a monarch being unhappy about a president in a democratic country.
The Pakistani president, no matter how unpopular he may have become, remains an elected leader. So what right does a monarch have to show concern about an elected leader of another Muslim country? The Saudi king is supposed to have said that Pakistan cannot progress as long as Zardari holds office. Now, I do wonder, what is the concept of progress to a monarch of a puritanical Muslim state?
Is his disappointment based in the fact that unlike the Ziaul Haq dictatorship, the Zardari regime is not constructing enough mosques or madressas? Is it due to the fact that unlike Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N, Zardari’s PPP has been traditionally more associated with certain populist and indigenous folk versions of Islam in Pakistan that the Saudis scorn at? I am really interested in determining exactly what constitutes ‘progress’ to oil-rich Muslim monarchies, one of which, according to the leaked documents, is hovering at the top as the world’s leading donor nation to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.
Yes, sir, no matter how much carnage and madness countries like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan face from the monsters they themselves have created, they just refuse to learn from their follies. In their obsessive-compulsive paranoia that sees many of their citizens stuck in an old Cold War thinking mode as far as countries like Israel, India and US are concerned, they keep feeding merciless ogres whom they believe will fight their egotistical battles against their sectarian, religious and ideological enemies.
The mindset continues despite the fact that in the last one decade, terrorist foot soldiers have spilled more Muslim blood than that of ‘infidels.’ Wikileaks or not, we are suffering from a freaky deluge of a delusion.