Pakistan should tread carefully (Daily Times (Pakistan))

The BBC, quoting the official Saudi press agency, has stated that Pakistan, along with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan, have all expressed a desire to participate in the operation against rebels in Yemen. However, Pakistans Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson had a different opinion. In a weekly press briefing, she stated, “I can confirm we have been contacted by Saudi Arabia in this regard. The matter is being examined. That is all I have to say at the moment.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif said that any threat to Saudi Arabias territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan. Of course, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are brotherly countries and have stood by each other in testing times. But it is too serious a statement, rather a declaration of war, against the enemies of Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan should not be a part of any grouping of Muslim countries on a sectarian basis and should rather contribute towards bringing them closer. After statements from the leader of the opposition Syed Khurshid Shah and others demanding that the matter be discussed in parliament, Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told the National Assembly on Friday that Pakistan has only pledged to safeguard the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia on Saudi request. “We will not take part in any conflict that could result in differences in the Muslim world, causing faultlines present in Pakistan to be disturbed, the aggravation of which will have to be borne by Pakistan,” he asserted. In a high-level meeting on Thursday, it was decided that a delegation comprising of the defence minister, the advisor to the PM on national security and senior representatives from the armed forces would be sent to Saudi Arabia to assess the situation.
In recent months, Yemen has descended into conflicts between several different groups, bringing the country to the brink of civil war. The conflict between the Houthis and the government is seen as part of a regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which shares a long border with Yemen. It was because of their power games and the shenanigans of the US and the west that al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State (IS) benefited from the ongoing civil war in Yemen. Iran and Saudi Arabia should understand that AQAP, because of its technical expertise and global reach, and IS militants outreach and ferocity can harm both Iran and Saudi Arabia. In the backdrop of a drastically changing political landscape, the situation is rather complex. The US and Iran seem close to reaching some understanding on Irans nuclear programme and there is likely going to be a convergence of their interests in fighting IS and al Qaeda.
On the other hand, the US and Saudi Arabia have developed differences over the formers refusal to provide air cover to Syrian rebels fighting the Syrian forces. But now, in the case of Yemen, both are on the same page. The fact remains that the present situation in the Middle East has emerged after Saudi Arabia launched strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. A coalition of Arab countries has been formed and the US has said it will provide “logistical and intelligence support” to the operation. It is not likely to commit any troops, as it remembers the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. Pakistan has already suffered immensely in the war on terror and its armed forces are preoccupied with fighting the terrorists. They should not be overstretched under any circumstances.
Pakistan cannot afford to be a part of any project whether it is regime change or saving a regime. The project of regime change and fighting the rebels and insurgents could take years, and even decades. In March 2011, when fighting in Syria began, the backers of the rebels had predicted an imminent overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad. Now, more than four years on, the Syrian government has survived despite many groups and forces inimical to Assad fighting the Syrian forces. Insurgents took control of the strategically important border town Qusayr for a couple of days but Assads forces, with the support of Hezbollah fighters, recaptured Qusayr from the rebels. The Syrian army also retook control of the UN-monitored crossing at Quneitra in the Golan Heights that had been overrun by rebel forces.
There is a perception that the US and the west are using contradictions between Muslim countries to weaken them by dividing them on sectarian lines. The US is accused by its critics of having played a role in stoking the Iran-Iraq war, Arab-Israeli conflict and support for the Contra saboteurs against the revolutionary government of Nicaragua. The list of its interferences, subversions, controls and overthrowing of third world governments is too long to be elaborated. US leaders have never hidden their motives on how they want to dominate the world and control its resources. Finally, protection of Israel is a cornerstone of US foreign policy and it is likely to go to any extent to ensure Israels safety and security.
There are lessons to be learnt from the past. The US, European and Arab countries gave financial help and moral support to Saddam Hussein when Iraq attacked Iran. It was indeed partially due to Saddam Husseins adventurism and lust for controlling the region, and partly due to the imperialistic designs of the west. With their support, Iraq emerged as the most powerful country in the Middle East and it was considered a palpable threat to Israel. Therefore, the stage was set to get rid of Saddam Hussein and also to destroy Iraq. After Iraq attacked Kuwait in August 1990, the UN Security Council passed a resolution on November 29, 1990, to take military action against Iraq. In 2003, once again, the US and its allies formed a coalition of the willing and attacked Iraq. Pakistan refused to join the coalition as it did not have a mandate from the UN.