In a rare act of irrationality, the government of Pakistan announced its decision to protect the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. A high-level delegation comprising the defence minister, the prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs and representatives of the armed forces were promptly dispatched to take lessons on how to participate in an international military coalition built solely for the purpose of aggression against a small country. The region’s richest country has now formally asked one of the poorest for ‘boots on the ground’, ‘airplanes in air’ and ‘ships on water’ to protect its royal family.
Still grievously suffering from the wounds of our past voluntary services, we seem to have learnt very little. Here is a disaster in the offing — visible to a blind man in a dark room — waiting to embroil and push back the entire region by another few hundred years. What ‘substance abuse’ is making us ‘high’ and reckless on an issue that we need not touch with a long pole? Not only do we appear to be bending backwards to comply with the self-seeking desires of a belligerent gang, but we also seem to be fabricating lies that could easily outdo the beauty of the book 1984 by George Orwell.
There are at least six falsehoods being purposely used to mislead the people of Pakistan. The first of these fabrications suggests that we ought to support Saudi Arabia because it is a brotherly Muslim country. In doing so, we meaningfully remain silent on the fact that Yemen is also a Muslim country. If brotherhood is based on being Muslim, then all or no Muslim country should be our brother. How come we appear to have agreed to kill one group of our brothers by taking money from the other? The second falsehood that is being propagated is the impression that Yemenis are attacking Saudi Arabia. The truth is just the opposite. It is Saudi Arabia and its allies that are attacking Yemen and not the other way round.
The third falsehood is to intentionally create ambivalence about three completely different entities — the Saudi state, the Saudi Royal family and the holy sites. The fourth falsehood advocates that it is in Pakistan’s national interest to support Saudi Arabia. The fact is that Pakistan’s national interest will be irreversibly compromised by becoming an ally of the Saudi-led coalition. The coalition is blatantly violating the UN Charter by engaging in an unprovoked and illegal act of aggression against a small country.
The fifth falsehood underscores Saudi Arabia’s deep-rooted friendship with Pakistan and its people. The fact is that Saudi Arabia has funded militant groups and fought its proxy wars in Pakistan for many decades. Yemen has done no such thing. Does anyone need to be convinced on how the Saudis treat Pakistanis with servant-like contempt and disrespect, which is even worse than how the rich of Pakistan treat the guards standing outside their gates?
The sixth falsehood is built on how Pakistan’s international prestige and status will go up because of its involvement in the Saudi-led war. The fact is that Pakistan will only be looked down upon as a country that is willing to rent its services when its own house is on fire. There should be no doubt that our involvement will generate a new set of enemies — including Iran that has traditionally held good relations with Pakistan.
One finds it impossible to appeal to the good sense and sanity of our rulers. So here is a plea to the Saudi government. Please leave our country alone. We have enough on our plate, which is far more significant and far more meaningful than protecting families in foreign lands.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2015.