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Shia protesters oppose Pakistan's involvement in Saudi-led coalition

Published Jan 08, 2016 09:20pm


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A woman holds a sign for cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed along with others in Saudi Arabia. —Reuters
A woman holds a sign for cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed along with others in Saudi Arabia. —Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of people joined a Shia-led protest in Islamabad on Friday against the government's decision to join Saudi Arabia's 34-country coalition against extremism, as Riyadh's foreign minister ended a two-day visit to the country.

The protesters presented a memorandum to the Foreign Office spokesman demanding Pakistan to drop out of the alliance, which was announced in December and is seen as the latest sign of a more assertive foreign policy by the Saudi kingdom, the dominant Muslim power in the Middle East.

“Neither the Pakistan army nor the nation is for rent, we will oppose any attempts to sell the army to the house of Saud for a few billion riyals,” said Shia activist Gul-e-Zahra, addressing the Friday's rally.

Pakistan announced on Thursday they would join the Saudi-led military alliance to fight “terrorism” in the Islamic world, following a meeting between Riyadh's foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Saudi Arabia announced the coalition last month, naming Pakistan as a member, but Islamabad had initially reacted cautiously saying it needed further details before deciding the extent of its participation.

In a separate rally in the capital, an estimated 1,500 people chanted slogans against Saudi's execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on January 2, which sparked a deepening crisis between Riyadh and regional rival Iran.

An ASWJ supporter  holds a placard to condemn the attack on Saudi consulate in Iran. —Reuters An ASWJ supporter holds a placard to condemn the attack on Saudi consulate in Iran. —Reuters

Small scale rallies against the Saudi coalition were also organised in Lahore, however, protests were also held in Islamabad against Iran, with demonstrators accusing Tehran of “meddling “in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs.

The protesters chanted slogans vowing to “lay down their lives for the protection of the custodians of the holy cities”, a term used for the ruling Saudi family.


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Comments (93) Closed

Ak Jan 08, 2016 09:24pm

Yes, Pakistan should be out of this mess. It would be unfair to Shia population in Pakistan if the country chooses to align itself with Saudis.

Muhammad Ateeq Jan 08, 2016 09:24pm

and this is what i feared. Things gone bad to worst.

Haider Jan 08, 2016 09:29pm

Shias are pakistanis only. They dont care about saudi and iran.

Khurram Jan 08, 2016 09:35pm

Another diplomatic failure resulting in internal unrest now.

salman Jan 08, 2016 09:37pm

good move by the people. pakistanis must pressurize their govt to keep the country away from the sectarian wars

Talat Jan 08, 2016 09:39pm

Pakistan should be involved and support the coalition against extremism. This does not mean Pakistan is aligning itself with the Saudis. Pakistan is a member of the UN and so is Israel but it is not aligned to Israel. It would be unfair for Pakistani Shias if Pakistan aligned itself with the Saudis against Iran but this is not the case. Pakistan is a coalition member in the fight against extremism but not a member against Shias. Pakistan should never get involved in another countries dispute.

Engineer_Says Jan 08, 2016 09:40pm

I'm Sunni, but I am against Saudis led coalition. Saudis would divide Muslim e Ummah .. Divided we fall, Together we stand ...!!!!

Skeptic Jan 08, 2016 09:43pm

Short-term interests will harm us in the long run.

lafanga Jan 08, 2016 09:45pm

Both the Saudis and Iranians spending their petro dollars in Pakistan to gain influence with certain parties. Although I back the Saudis ONLY if they are directly threatened BUT at the same time I would like all these protesters to pack their bags and go to Iran or Saudi Arabia and fight with them. Leave Pakistan alone.

Multinational Bhabi Jan 08, 2016 09:50pm

@Ak I am a Shia and although I personally think that Pakistan should always stay out of other country's business let's not forget that over a million Pakistanis work and live in Saudi Arabia. Let's also not forget that Saudi Arabia has provided billions of dollars of aid to Pakistan over the years and has generally supported Pakistan in UN. Let's also not forget that Iran sold us out during the AQ Khan nuclear proliferation scandal. My personal religious beliefs should not dictate my country's foreign policy

Ghulam Qasim Jan 08, 2016 09:50pm

Pakistan keep away with this mess. Arabs need to biting every now and than, never together to help to get Jerusalem and solve Palestinian problem, Islamic countries damaged by Arab with their mentor to Libiya, Iraq,Yemen, Syria and Iran / Iraq war. than damaging Iraq, last 35 yrs has been same blood shed. Think and solve problem yourself do not involve Pakistan.

M Zaki Jan 08, 2016 09:51pm

Yet again history repeats its self. Unfortunately no lessons are learned from mistaken we had made in past and we are about to jump into another conflict that is not ours to venture.

Fakhir Jan 08, 2016 09:54pm

We have a long standing and time tested strategy of remaining neutral. We should go by that policy. Nimr was executed in ksa but it has sparked a lot of reaction all over the world. Even from Amnesty international and UN. So is the reaction of people

Nadeem Jan 08, 2016 09:57pm

I think there is a confusion that Govt must clarify. Actually, Pakistan is NOT going to support anyone in sectarian fights which means neither against Sunis nor the Shias. Pakistan's support is meant only for the security of the holy places / areas and that's what it should be.

samina Jan 08, 2016 09:59pm

Let us stay out of the power game between Saudis and Iran. Pakistan should not join any coalition that serves interest of another country.

Saqlain Jan 08, 2016 10:01pm

Pakistan is a sovereign country and it should make decisions based on its interest. I am a Shia Muslim, and I don't think it is wrong to be part of the Saudi led coalition. As long the goals and Pakistani involvement is concern, the focus should be to eradicate ISIL. And Pakistan needs to clarify this point to Saudis. Pakistan can change friends but can not replace it's neighbors.

Big question Jan 08, 2016 10:06pm

Its not right for Pakistan to participate in sectarian war.

Faisal Jan 08, 2016 10:10pm

That happened which nobody wanted, after many years of extremism and terrorism in the country, Pakistan was finally standing. But again the same situation, we should not be a part of any coalition.

waleed KARACHI Jan 08, 2016 10:10pm

I back and support this decision...saudia is our mentor who helped us in difficult times...saudia helped us in 65,71 wars;even saudia helped us financially in various times.Around many hundred thousands pakistanis are earning heavy amount of revenue from saudia.

OmarFL Jan 08, 2016 10:10pm

We should also remember that Iran has a pact with India to support THEM in an India-Pakistan conflict.

sidney Jan 08, 2016 10:11pm

The Pakistan Government has been wise in calling for improved shia-sunni relations and to stay out of the power politics. The Saud family seems to be cornered on every side and wishes to simplify all issues to the evil Tehran regime. The reality is that the drop in oil prices,war in Yemen which is becoming a Vietnam for the Saudis and Washington's move towards Iran is all causing huge concerns and hence they are lashing out. Pakistan should do what Indonesia and Malaysia are doing i.e moderate Sunnis are not taking sides with the saudis

Avatar Jan 08, 2016 10:14pm

@OmarFL And why is that?

Avatar Jan 08, 2016 10:14pm

@Engineer_Says So how come Sunnis are not coming out and demonstrating?

Sonny Afridi Jan 08, 2016 10:17pm

Not our fight not our problem. We should only promote dialog between the 2. Nothing more

Mehmood Jan 08, 2016 10:25pm

If there are tensions between Saudis and Iran the price of oil would go up and both will benefit. And of course, both get to demonstrate their sphere of influence.

But for Pakistan, its only bad news. Neither Saudis nor Iran will give Pakistan free oil. Also, both these are primarily sunny and shia countries, for the most part. With a large number of Shia/Sunny population in Pakistan, any tensions are recipe for disaster.

Stay Away!

Guest66 Jan 08, 2016 10:26pm

This is Not a Shia Protest or Sunni Patronizing , Its a Pakistan National Issue , We have enough of the mess already created out of our madness of Afghan Jehad and we are paying a very heavy PRICE for over 3 decades Now Thus , No to any adventure outside our own territorial borders , No to any commitment to send our troops Unless its for a UN Peace keeping duty , No to going and fighting AnyBody else's war , may it be against terrorist , against perverted organizations like ISIS/Al Qaida or going and protecting anybody else . We have enough of the problems of our own rule of law , safety and security , No one gives 3 hoots if Pakistanis die in cool blooded terrorists attacks ....

Asim Jan 08, 2016 10:34pm

Either iran, iraq and syria should join the coalition or pakistan should stay out of it.

Fayyaz Ali Jan 08, 2016 10:39pm

Pakistan is joining a coalition on counter terrorism which is orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, excluding Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen. The countries mentioned are the ones which are fighting this war on the front line, why are they excluded? Saudi Arabia is creating schism in Islamic World by following blindly the US polices in Middle East.

Multinational Brother Jan 08, 2016 10:43pm

@Multinational Bhabi: Totally agreed with you. One more fact: there are hundereds of thousands of Pakistanis working in Saudi, which are supporting there families in pakistan and sending valuable foreign reserve to support Pakistan. Even if we forget all the past benefits that we received from saudi, this fact alone is enough to tacitly put our weight in saudis favor. The rhetoric to stay unaligned is without merit. Consider an example: what if China needed our support against USA? Should we start screaming loudly that "we will not support any of them!" ? Consider all the support that we have received from China (military + diplomatic), then consider the fact that the single biggest foreign investment in Pakistan's history has been from China, then consider the fact, how many times USA has betrayed us. It is a very similar situation when we talk about Iran Vs. Saudi. We should stay unaligned as long as we can. But if we must choose then we should support saudi.

Goga Nalaik Jan 08, 2016 10:49pm

Unfortunately, I forsee difficult times to come...

shopaholic Jan 08, 2016 10:57pm

Pakistanis should have their loyalties with Pakistan only. Unfortunately Sunnis are more loyal to SA and Shia to Iran. Although I would suggest a neutral stance but Saudi Arabia has helped us a number of times unlike Iran who has always been friends with India.

Engr. Khan Jan 08, 2016 10:58pm

Peaceful protest is everyone fundamental right.

Skeptic Jan 08, 2016 10:59pm

@Mehmood Twisted logic!

" If there are tensions between Saudis and Iran the price of oil would go up and both will benefit.:"

Many will needlessly die or suffer the consequences of this tension. How does that benefit anyone?

Has Russia's annexation of Crimea benefited anyone? Has the price of Oil or Gas risen since last year? Not everything has to translate into Dollars and cents.

Farhan Jan 08, 2016 11:03pm

Govt. must understand the feelings of our Shia citizens before committing to any outside nation. We are on the brink!

Mustafa R. Jan 08, 2016 11:16pm

If you want international politics to stay out of sectarianism, keep sectarianism out of international politics. General Raheel is handling it, he is the right man for this job and represents all Pakistanis; Sunni, Shia or otherwise.

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali Jan 08, 2016 11:20pm

This is not Shia issue. This is Pakistan's security issue, plus Saudis are looking for domination in ME and also for army boots on ground, that is Pakistani army second to none. Shia population should stop playing the ethnic / sectarian card. Be a Pakistani first and talk like a Pakistani. This is your & others home, Please, please.

Seedoo Jan 08, 2016 11:20pm

Before we align ourselves with the Saudis on this "Alliance against Terrorism" thing, we should realize a couple of realities. 1) This is an alliance against Iran and the Shias in the region, 2) It has everything to do with Saudis asserting themselves as the regional power, 3) Saudi leaders are in bed with the Israelis, 4) All the mess in the region, including all terrorism is Saudi inspired, 5) Almost all terrorists in the region are Sunnis and not Shias, 5) Saudi Arabia may still be wealthy, but it is on a fast track to bankruptcy, and the house of Saud (basically bandits) is paranoid

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali Jan 08, 2016 11:26pm

Saudis should learn how to sweat & perspire while being army. Air-conditioned tanks will not help you in a fight. Learn to shoot & then fight your own war. Pakistani army is not for rent. The politicians do not own that much of a clout in Pakistan, Your Majesty.

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali Jan 08, 2016 11:29pm

This Shia protest is a litmus test, what is going to be in case Pakistan will join the ground war with KSA. Say NO to Saudis.

Pakistani Jan 08, 2016 11:29pm

Its not an issue of Harmein - Sharifan, its an issue who dictates and control middle east. After Saddam, SA thought that new government will follow them but it didn't and ISIL came into being, Yemen government was thrown out, In Syria, SA supported rebels for long time, but failed so far to remove Asad. Now USA has agreed to negotiate with Asad and keep him at least till 2018. West had a nuclear deal with Iran and ready to lift economic sanctions this month, which will bring Iran out of recession. SA is loosing political power every where and upset. Its an old rivalry between Arabs and Persians. Its better we stay out of these politics.

Hassan Raza Jan 08, 2016 11:32pm

@Talat It's unfair in its inception as it excludes Iran making this a sectarian alliance. Please know your facts

Khurram Jadoon Jan 08, 2016 11:49pm

@Haider Excellent !

afzal Jan 09, 2016 12:09am

@Ak Then why shia are protesting against saudi executions

Khan- Pakistani Jan 09, 2016 12:09am

Pakistan needs to stay out of it this when the dispute is between brothers and we dont know who is right and who is wrong !

Khan- Pakistani Jan 09, 2016 12:10am

Our wrong policies have led us to the situation where we have enemies on both sides of our border .

light out city Jan 09, 2016 12:24am

@Haider ,,, Wonderful approach brother... thumbs up

light out city Jan 09, 2016 12:27am

@Hassan Raza you really think Iran wants to be a part of this coalition?????

AW Jan 09, 2016 12:33am

Shia activist Gul-e-Zahra is right that Pakistan is not for sale and our foreign policy should reflect this stance. It is clear that majority of Pakistanis do not support the prime minister and the government for their stand in favor of the Saudi rulers.

irfan Jan 09, 2016 12:44am

How can govt allow a banned organisation ASWJ to hold rally. Where is NAP.

Syed Meerza Jan 09, 2016 12:54am

Till this time, 44 individuals commented.95% have commented against joining "Saudi" led coalition.If you respect and follow democracy, majority vote should be given consideration. But who respects the majority view? We the 99% have no say.So, it is a futile exercise on our part to say anything.If the politicians are going to consider any one's views, it will be General raheel Sharif.So, we Pakistanis are looking towards the General and expect him to "STOP" this "unwise"initiative of the politicians to join any side.Pakistan should remain neutral and only play the part of a "reconciliator".

Jafer Khan Jan 09, 2016 01:00am

@Syed Meerza : Not that simple, referendum in Pakistan can only decide.

Dr Mazhar Jan 09, 2016 01:11am

My dear Pakistanis, The tension in between Arabs and Persia exist even before Islam. So this is not based on religion, Please be neutral in this case otherwise again Pakistan will suffer most.

A. Ali Jan 09, 2016 01:15am

Pak should stand with Saudis as they are our all weather friends.... Iran is slippery and have more interest in India than us.

gerry dcunha Jan 09, 2016 01:24am

A friend in need is a friend in deed - Nawaz shareef was given asylum in Saudi Arabia

mohammed Jan 09, 2016 01:35am

This shia suni politic should be stop at once and if the government policy to stand with Saudis then that is love it or live it All protest should be stop at once by law and no one should be allowed to come out on the street if like you the government desiccation good and if do not like its one choice but no protest on the street.

Sheeda Tully Jan 09, 2016 01:36am

Pakistanis, whether Shia or Sunni, should respect whatever decision Pakistan takes as long as it is legal.

sad Jan 09, 2016 01:38am

@waleed KARACHI they are also mistreating and abusing our workforce

Mastang Jan 09, 2016 01:43am

Pakistan supporting against terrorism not on sectarian basis.

Najam Jan 09, 2016 02:05am

Keep out. We can't get into any of the mess.

zahid syed Jan 09, 2016 02:09am

@Multinational Bhabi So, our decision should depend on how much we get paid, billions of dollars, and not what is right and what is good for our country?

Ahmad Jan 09, 2016 02:16am

We should stay out of Saudi-Iran conflict as both are extremist states with their own agendas, however being part of 34 Nation Alliance to route out terrorism is not a bad idea.

Saleem Jan 09, 2016 02:41am

@lafanga Funny thing is, these same people (Protesters from both side) are treated like garbage in these countries. I am a sunni and i am against any sectarian conflicts. These protesters should realize that they are Muslims and Pakistanis and not Saudis or Iranians, they should go there if they think otherwise. Majority of Pakistanis are educated and don't see people through shia sunni prism and that's a plus. I do want the Govt should take severe actions against sectarian hate preachers.

ahsan7979 Jan 09, 2016 02:44am

@Haider Yes. They should not be concerned about internal matter of other countries, whether it be beheading of a scholar or burning down another countries embassy. Shia Sunni harmony in Pakistan is the key here or militancy would spread like wildfire in all of Pakistan.

Shaukat Ali Khan Jan 09, 2016 02:44am

Pakistan must not participate in any divided Muslim coalition.

ahsan7979 Jan 09, 2016 02:46am

@Engineer_Says. It would be nice if everyone here said, I am a Muslim. Thats the only way forward...

Imran Jan 09, 2016 03:25am

Yes this is a Pakistani Issue and not Shia or Sunni? Pakistani forces are not for Rent.

Hass Jan 09, 2016 03:26am

@Multinational Bhabi Hats off to you i wish we all start thinking like you and keeping historical facts rahther than aligning with the sect which we belong to

Usman Jan 09, 2016 03:45am

What happened to Sh. Nimr, was Saudi's personal matter. They acted in their self interest, it was their country, their citizen, their headache.

Why the hell are Pakistanis reacting to it, in Pakistan?

anjan Jan 09, 2016 04:32am

It is high time the Pakistani's demand their Government and the Army to act responsibly. Pakistani National interests and their citizens should come first not that of oil rich nations personal interests.

Kpk Jan 09, 2016 04:42am

I am sunni and i am more with iran.

Shakil USA Jan 09, 2016 04:45am

@Engineer_Says - Well sad. I greed and I am Sunni as well. We do not need sectarian wars .

Nasir Jan 09, 2016 04:51am

Send Iran supporters to Iran and Saudi supporters to Saudia but where are Pakitsan supporters.

ravian Jan 09, 2016 04:54am

Both sunnis and shias need to realise they are Pakistani first. Donot be more saudi than saudis and more iranian than iranians.

Shakil USA Jan 09, 2016 05:28am

@Haider - agreed sir, I am sunni and we do not want to see sectarian wars.

Baloch Jan 09, 2016 05:41am

This is exactly what enemies of ISLAM want - pitch Muslims against Muslims !!!!!! They destroyed IRAQ, LYBIA, YEMEN, AFGHANISTAN, PALESTINE, LEBANON, SYRIA..... Now their are eying to destroy, IRAN, SAUDIA, PAKISTAN and ....... MULLAISM has no room in PAKISTAN. Our government and MILITARY should not scum to internal or external pressures. Pakistan comes first and constitution should prevail. Love Pakistan, Pakistan Zindabaad

Dr. Farooq Khan Jan 09, 2016 06:12am

These day politics seems that everybody should stop working and start protesting against something you don't know. Go to work guys. It is perpetually encouraging wasting of each others time.

Pakistani Jan 09, 2016 06:25am

Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen but Pakistan didn't support Yemen. Even now, no one has attacked Saudi Arabia, why is Pakistan asked to fight the wars started by Saudi Arabia.

Mind Power Jan 09, 2016 06:29am

The two rivals are fighting a Mind War!

Mentally tougher always comes on top.....

Better is if both should sit down and talk "construction not destruction!"

berni Jan 09, 2016 06:34am

NS has agreed to support S. Arabia because he believes the majority wants this and that he can assure Pakistan's best interests. This is how politicians make decisions. Let's see.

Masood Jan 09, 2016 07:01am

@Multinational Bhabi , I am a Sunni, and let us clear one thing that Pakistan is under NO OBLIGATION to support Saudi Arabia because so many Pakistanis work over there. They work and Saudis pay them for that work. Pakistanis are there on their own merit, because they do the job. Do you think that Saudis would pay them if they were not good at what ever they do ? Suadis would replace them in a heartbeat.

Optimistic Pakistani Jan 09, 2016 07:18am

First of all this is a diplomatic war and Pakistan has been trying to defuse the situation.... it must be very clear in case there is any danger to the territory of the holy kingdom then yes we will protect it...don't pose this situation to be a physical's neither easy for Saudi Arabia or Iran to be involved in a direct physical conflict bearing in mind the consequences and the aftermaths.

Optimistic Pakistani Jan 09, 2016 07:28am

@AW if our army was supporting Iran then this won't be the stance of the Shia population so please don't bring this sectarian war between KSA IRAN in Pakistan . We shold be out of this mess as both countries are our brothers and we should be defusing the situation rather than ignite it

Keti Zilgish Jan 09, 2016 07:35am

The only way to seriously solve this Iran-KSA mess is for All to agree that the death penalty should be abolished once and for All (Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Hindus) no matter what crime the person is accused of and where. The nation involved should have the guts to bear the cost of removing all grievances and in the process, the reformation of the accused. Life is precious and the vicious circle under consideration has to be broken somewhere and only the strong and brave will have the stamina and responsibility to do so because the reward is Peace.

Zeeshan Jan 09, 2016 08:16am

@Ak Brother Pakistan is in alliance with 34 muslim countries for good cause that is to fight against terrorists and terrorists organization like Daesh which is common threat to real muslims and other nations.

Islam Jan 09, 2016 10:15am

One section of population will accuse Iran and other section will accuse Saudi Arab therefore we should not get ourselves involved in this Saudi mess

Iftikhar Husain Jan 09, 2016 05:22pm

The best way for Pakistan is to play neutral in this crisis.

Elya Jan 10, 2016 08:17am

@Talat the coalition doesn't have countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc., which are all shia majority countries. This coalition is unnecessary since there is the US-led coalition to fight against terrorism. Also there is OIC to represent all the Muslim countries. This coalition is also senseless since it doesn't include the countries which are actually war-torn.

Mulazim hussain Jan 10, 2016 07:29pm

Pakistan has its own problems to resolve. We need to bring both the countries on table for reconciliation and play the neutral role.

Syed Ali Jan 10, 2016 09:30pm

@Syed Meerza Disagree on your statistical analysis it is flawed; Pakistan has more common interest with SA than Iran; they have to choose SA.

AW Jan 10, 2016 09:46pm

I support our Shia brothers against Saudi injustice. The Shia community is also Pakistani and their input deserves respect

Cyrus Jan 11, 2016 03:47am

Shias in Pakistan have the legal right to peacefully protest.

SHERAZ AHMED Jan 11, 2016 05:27am

you are 100% right

sam Jan 11, 2016 03:18pm

34 nation military alliance is to protect ISIS and that's it Pakistan will suffer for doing this better is that Pakistan should stay out of it