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Daily News Analysis

Yemen: Will Pakistan blunder into another war?

Crescent International

A joint session of the Pakistani parliament has been called for Monday April 6 to consider the rising crisis in Yemen as a result of "Saudi" aggression. The Najdi Bedouins want the Pakistan army to be deployed to defend their southern border and perhaps also join in a possible Saudi land invasion of Yemen where the Houthis have made impressive gains. Will Pakistan be forced to join another war?

Islamabad, Crescent-online
Friday April 3, 2015, 16:58 DST

Will Pakistan make the mistake of getting involved in another war at the behest of a third country? If the past is any guide, the prognosis is not very encouraging.

The “Saudi” regime is pressing Pakistan to get involved in the war the Najids have launched against their dirt-poor neighbours in Yemen to the south.

A Pakistani delegation comprising civil and military officials and led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif spent two days in Riyadh at the request of the “Saudi” regime to consider what “help” it could offer.

King Salman had summoned Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Riyadh on March 5 asking for the Pakistani army to be deployed defend its southern border. This was before the “Saudis” launched their aggression against Yemen.

At the time Sharif said Pakistan would not like to get involved in intra-Muslim rivalry.

This was a sensible position to take but it seems Sharif was not telling the whole truth.

What kind of promises he made to his “Saudi” benefactors is not known but it is obvious that Sharif may not be able to resist the Najdis’ pressure because his personal interests are involved.

The “Saudi” aggression against Yemen was launched on March 26, ostensibly to restore the “legitimate” government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi back to power.

Hadi has no legitimacy. He had resigned as president in January after failing to constitute a provisional government as per the agreement facilitated through the UN and Arab League.

He fled the capital Sana‘a on February 21 and sought refuge in Aden. He fled Aden as well on March 25 and is now a fugitive in “Saudi” Arabia.

The “Saudi” claim that it is helping to restore a “legitimate” government to power is also rich in irony.

The “Saudi” regime has no legitimacy itself.

There are 40,000 political prisoners in the country whose only “crime” is that they have called for reforms and an end to corruption.

The Pakistani government has said that it is committed to the security and territorial integrity of “Saudi” Arabia.

While neither is threatened at the present, what Sharif needs to explain is, who made this commitment to the “Saudi” regime and when?

It is more likely that Sharif is simply trying to save his own hide in case he is overthrown in another military coup and he would have a place to run to for refuge.

The Sharif family also has huge investments in “Saudi” Arabia after stealing billions of dollars from Pakistan.

Why should the people of Pakistan have to suffer in order to protect the personal fortunes and skins of their rulers?

If Nawaz Sharif had any sense, he should have told King Salman why did you take “punga” with the Yemenis? Sharif would understand what “punga” means; it is a Punjabi slang meaning needling someone unnecessarily.

There are three people you do not take punga with: the Afghans, Hizbullah and the Yemenis. We can also add Iranians to this list since the Islamic revolution.

Pakistani officials have been making contradictory statements about what they intend to do to placate the “Saudis”.

For instance, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said today (Friday April 3) upon return from Riyadh that the government had adopted a two-pronged strategy to come to a solution for the crisis in Yemen.

He reiterated that the government was committed to “Saudi” Arabia's security as well as finding a peaceful solution for the Yemen issue.

“On the one hand, we stand committed to the Saudis' security and territorial integrity and we have spelt that out very clearly,” said Asif.

“But on the other hand, we are using the option of bringing the Muslim countries together to find a peaceful solution for the crisis in Yemen,” he added.

Fortunately, the Pakistani government has agreed to call a joint session of parliament for Monday April 6 to have all parties give their input about this issue.

The fear is that the governing party might use such a session merely to push through its own pre-determined agenda.

If that is the case, Pakistan will pay a very heavy price.

Pakistan continues to pay the price for its foolish policy when the US attacked Afghanistan. The Americans were not expecting then Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf to fold so quickly on a single phone.

Pakistani society has been brutalized deepening its fault lines ever since. The mayhem that grips Pakistan today is the direct result of the folly of one man.

The “Saudi” rulers are racists. They treat foreign workers in the kingdom with contempt. Foreigners are denied all basic rights and the number of executions of ordinary people for petty crimes, most of them poor Pakistanis or Afghans, is appalling.

Why should Pakistani soldiers have to sacrifice their lives to defend such a regime?

While the Yemenis may not pose a direct threat to Pakistan—the two have no common borders—Pakistani resources cannot be stretched thin especially at a time when it is trying to contain an internal threat from the Taliban.

Further, there could be negative fallout internationally as well as the added threat of reprisal attacks from Yemenis.

It must be kept in mind that Osama bin Laden was of Yemeni origin even if his family has settled in “Saudi” Arabia.

Pakistan would be well advised to stay this one out. If Sharif and other decision-makers in Pakistan had any integrity, they should tell the Bedouins from Najd to go back to their primitive dwellings and spare the rest of the Muslim Ummah their savagery.


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