Alliance With Saudi Arabia: Time For Pakistan To Move On
Some of us must have been thinking about how to get rid of the Saudi blanket. Mercifully, MBS has shown us the door – through which we can now walk out with a clear conscious – without shutting it behind us, writes Asad Durrani.
Assuming that the Saudis snubbed the Prime Minister’s special envoy, also that in response we sent our Foreign Minister to China – I suggest that we now write a letter of thanks to our Bedouin friends for helping us finally take the plunge we had to, but didn’t know how to go about it.
On our streets, this act of theirs would be more graphically described as, “kubbe noan lat”: a kick that straightens the hunched back – and gets it going.
It was a long and mutually beneficial relationship. Before the Kingdom became oil-rich, doctors, engineers, bankers and many others from our areas – a good number from Sindh and Balochistan too – helped build the nascent state. Even when it became prosperous, it still needed our manpower and our military. It wisely diversified in all these fields, but in one core area, commitment to the sanctity of the Holy Land, our people were indispensable.
Chronic inability to play our hand to its potential, at home and abroad, tempted the Saudis to treat us much below our weight. We still had their good at heart and advised them, not to let the Yanks gain a foothold on their territory when Saddam moved into Kuwait and threatened the sole Saudi source of income – the oil fields.
OBL may have had his own reasons, but Pakistan’s concerns were more about the propensity of a foreign power to “divide, disrupt and dominate”. In due course, this wisdom caught up with the rulers in Riyadh, who, to get rid of the unholy presence, started mending fences in the Region.
Why the US attacked Iraq again can be discussed till the camels came home but it did serve a purpose: The region was now on fire. The House of Saud, which had so assiduously learnt the delicate art of balancing, external and internal, also within the royal family, panicked. It turned all the desert wisdom on its head and despite having suffered twice in the past, went all planes bombing in Yemen – and asked Pakistan to clean up the debris.
We in the meantime had learnt enough from Afghanistan next-door, where, like in Yemen, elephants go to get buried, and politely refused. Ever since some of us must have been thinking about how to get rid of the Saudi blanket. Mercifully, MBS has shown us the door – through which we can now walk out with a clear conscious – without shutting it behind us.
Luckily, plenty of wise men here have been building a more solid regional block which in due course would let even the Saudis in.
Of course, it’s not going to be easy. A few in the country would be genuinely worried: not only because of money and manpower but also because some timetested and ideological ties were at stake. And then there would be others, who –as in a famous episode of “Yes Prime Minister” – have earned the West’s gratitude for subverting regional interests on their behalf.
And just in case, to meet the challenges of our new direction, this government finally did what is a panacea of many of our ills – creating national consensus on core issues – the Saudi kick would have flattened our chronic curve.