A DEBATE is going on in the country about whether it is in Pakistan’s interest to continue its membership of the 41-state military alliance, founded by Saudi Arabia with America’s backing. Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has admitted in the Senate discussion: “This alliance will widen the sectarian divide within the Muslim world” (Dawn, June 2).
Saudi authorities said that the force could be used against rebels and militants posing a threat to member-states. Saudi Defence Minister Prince Salman has threatened that in the case of war it will be fought within the Iranian borders.
Now four issues arise here. First, if there is any uprising in any of the core members of the alliance, will Pakistan join Saudi Arabia in crushing it? Secondly, how will the Sunni-Shia relations in Pakistan be affected? Thirdly, if Saudi Arabia uses American warheads against the Hothis in Yemen, and the Hothis get more weapons from Iran, will Pakistan take part in such a showdown? After all, the commander of this Muslim ‘Nato’ is a Pakistani general.
Fourthly, what is the security situation on our borders? Iran has warned of “hot pursuit” against Baloch rebels operating from Pakistan. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Pakistan blame each other for terrorism in their respective territories.
The Indian air force is on high alert and so is ours. In this security environment, reason guides that Pakistan must withdraw from this sectarian alliance and recall Gen Raheel Sharif.
Dr Mehtab Ali Shah
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2017