The following piece was originally published by Express Tribune on 12th April 2015 but was removed from their website reportedly on the orders of a government official. We are re-posting the piece here for informational purposes only.
So finally the mouse has roared.
Parliament “desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive role to end the crises,” declares the resolution passed by the joint session of parliament. Whoa!
And then comes the naked, blatant, shameless threat from the rich Arab sheikhs. Speaking to Khaleej Times, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash warned Pakistan of having to pay a “heavy price” for taking on what he called an “ambiguous stand”. He said Pakistan should take a clear position “in favour of its strategic relations with the six-nation Arab Gulf Cooperation Council”
Then this Arab sheikh vomited a gem: “The vague and contradictory stands of Pakistan and Turkey are an absolute proof that Arab security — from Libya to Yemen — is the responsibility of none but Arab countries.” Really?
Last month I predicted that Army is playing Nawaz for a fool on the Yemen crisis. At the time, I wrote that “If Pakistan joins a Saudi attack on Yemen and it goes well, Gen Raheel will be celebrated as a hero of Pakistan and the Ummah. If Pakistan decides not to participate, it will be Gen Raheel seen as injecting sense into a belligerent Nawaz.” As we know, Parliament backed neutrality in the conflict, a sensible position supported by most Pakistanis, though sparking vocal anger from Arab allies. Parliament has been praised for its sensibility and courage in taking a tough decision that is in Pakistan’s best interest, but there are signs that certain forces are acting behind the scenes to change this.
Nawaz Sharif’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia is no secret. Perhaps it is sheer fate, then, that he happens to be Prime Minister when they come knocking and asking for military cooperation in their plans for Yemen. The reaction against this request has been mixed, with certain segments of society chomping at the bit to join an Arab operation against a supposedly Iranian-backed foe. More rational minds, even those very close to the military, have strongly warned against such a misadventure. One thing that seems to be missing from these warnings, however, is actually holding accountable those in charge of making such bad decisions.