Saudi support: at what cost?

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani termed his recent visit to Saudi Arabia as a ‘renewal of ties’. Now this is interesting. Why would Pakistan need to ‘renew’ its ties with its Saudi ‘lords’ who have wreaked havoc here in the name of Islam? But obviously this subject was not on Mr Gilani’s agenda. The discussions were focused on asking the Saudis to reactivate bilateral cooperation in the fields of science, defence, defence production, trade and commerce. The Pakistani side tried to persuade the Saudis to buy weapons from us. The defence production facilities in Pakistan produce more weapons than we need, which is why we try to sell the extra weapons to other countries. Prime Minister Gilani also requested the Saudi authorities for an extension in the deferred oil payment facility, which the Saudis will ‘consider’. Apart from performing Umrah, which seemed to be the primary purpose of the Pakistani side for visiting Saudi Arabia, it looks as if nothing substantial came out of the talks. The two sides discussed the Afghan situation in the post-US withdrawal scenario. Saudi Arabia may have stressed Pakistan’s crucial role in the region given the new developments but maybe the Saudis have forgotten their own role in pushing this region into a quagmire.

Even before the Afghan jihad, Saudi Arabia was able to influence the Pakistani leadership due to the power of petro-dollars. By dazzling our leadership with its wealth and dangling the ‘Kadhimain-Haramain-Sharifain’ title in front of the Pakistani public, the Saudi monarchy was able to get what it wanted from Pakistan. Be it exporting terrorism to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s nemesis, by funding sectarian madrassas that are actually terror factories, fanning sectarian conflict inside Pakistan through these same madrassas, buying land in Pakistan to ensure food security in the barren kingdom, or hunting endangered animals and birds with their UAE brethren on Pakistani soil, the Arab sheikhs have lorded it in and over Pakistan. This, however, could not have happened unless our leaders allowed it, dazzled as they have been by the lure of money. The seeds of Arabisation of Pakistan germinated in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s time and bore plentiful fruit under General Ziaul Haq’s regime. None of our leaders, be they civilian or military, thought much about the consequences of getting too close to the Arab overlords. The poison that the Saudiisation of Pakistan produced has now spread countrywide. King Abdullah’s words during Prime Minister Gilani’s visit are of significance. The monarch said, “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are one country; they are more than friends and more than brothers.” Instead of sending shockwaves down our leadership’s spine, Prime Minister Gilani welcomed his statement and went a step further by saying, “Pakistan’s security is Saudi Arabia’s security and Saudi Arabia’s security is Pakistan’s security.”

If this is how our leaders are going to behave — bowing to every whim of the monarchs of Saudi Arabia — they might as well move all Pakistanis to the Rab’ al Khali (the empty quarter, the massive desert in the heart of Saudi Arabia where nothing grows or lives) and invite the Arab sheikhs to reside in Pakistan instead. Arab influence has already turned Pakistan into a blood-soaked battlefield. The fault lies with Pakistan’s leaders who have never questioned the Arab sheikhs for their dubious and nefarious activities in the region and in Pakistan. Pakistani society has become intolerant over the years because of various reasons, but most importantly because of Saudi Arabia’s powerful influence in our internal matters. The growth of Wahabiism and extremism in Pakistan is mostly because of funding by Arab sheikhs. Is it not time to bid adieu to such negative influences instead of asking them for ‘renewal’ of ties?

(my editorial in Daily Times)

Comments

Rehan said…
Hear hear! But who is listening? :-(

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