• Wednesday, January 29, 2020

How Pakistan wants to take advantage of ME crisis

Discussion in 'Strategic & Foreign Affairs' started by OsmanAli98, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. OsmanAli98

    OsmanAli98 SENIOR MEMBER

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    For five days after the most far-reaching crisis of Imran Khan's tenure had struck the wider region - the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike – the prime minister's response was conspicuous silence.

    The reasons for his strangely delayed reaction reveal much about who really holds the reins of power in Pakistan – both within its borders and outside of them, and how that could impact the proxy wars between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

    The country's first official response came not from the executive branch or any civilian political leader, but, unsurprisingly, from the military: in a call from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Pakistan's army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa "emphasized the need for maximum restraint."



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    In the days that followed, the Army spokesperson hyperactively trotted out rhetorical flourishes backing the claim that in the fight between Iran and the U.S., Pakistan chose both neutrality, and clichés: We "won’t allow our soil to be used against anyone," "We’re on the side of peace," and "We will not take any sides."

    Khan finally found his voice Wednesday, as the immediate crisis was already subsiding, tweeting that he'd "asked" Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to "visit Iran, KSA [Saudi Arabia] & USA to meet with respective foreign ministers," and for army chief Gen Bajwa to "contact relevant military leaders to convey a clear message: Pakistan is ready to play it's [sic] role for peace but it can never again be part of any war."



    "Neutral" is the go-to word Pakistan uses – with equal measures of populist instinct and real-world deceit – to describe its position in the Saudi-Iran conflict. Having now spent four decades training Saudi troops, and supplying its own to Riyadh and its proxies, there's already no need to explain the Middle Eastern adage, "Saudi Arabia will fight until the last Pakistani."

    Over the years, Pakistan-backed Saudi proxies in the Middle East have directly confronted their Iranian counterparts orchestrated Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), lately commanded by Qasem Soleimani. Over the last decade, the battlefields have extended ever further - into Syria, Bahrain and Yemen.

    Risky Gulf Arab Strategy Tested by Killing of Iran General
    Iran's proxies, too, have found recruits from within Pakistan’s Shia population, with the Syria-based Liwa Zainabiyoun claiming to have "thousands" of Pakistani volunteers, trained by the Qods Force in Mashhad. The Shia recruits largely come from the border area of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where Iran-bound Salafi military groups like Jundallah, and its reincarnation Jaish ul-Adl, maintain their presence.

    Camped on the opposite end of the Middle East's proxy warfare from Pakistan, Soleimani was a harsh critic of his Pakistani counterparts’ allegiance to Tehran's enemies. As recently as February 2019, he had accused Pakistan of "taking Saudi cash" to "stir insecurity" in Iran.

    In 2017, Tehran had threatened to strike "terrorist safe havens" in Pakistan after Jaish ul-Adl – based in Pakistani territory - killed 10 Iranian soldiers. In February 2019, a suicide bomber killed 27 Revolutionary Guards just over the Pakistani border; Tehran announces that Iran would "take revenge for the blood of the martyrs of this incident."

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    Despite Pakistan’s support for Saudi-backed Middle East militia - which enjoys popular support within the country as well - Islamabad has had to be careful how it voices its allegiances, owing to a sizeable Shia population, estimated to be around 40-45 million – the second largest Shia community in the Muslim world.

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    Shiite Muslims wear masks of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani during a protest against the US strike that killed Soleimani. Islamabad, Pakistan, Jan 5, 2020 AFP
    On the Sunday after the Soleimani strike, there were nationwide protests led by Shia organizations against his killing, with banners echoing holy Shia slogans, chants against the U.S. and Israel – customary targets for protests in Pakistan, across ideological and sectarian divides.

    Even though, like any other religious group, the Shia Muslims in Pakistan aren’t a monolith, they’re still perceived as "Iran-sympathizers," just as their Sunni counterparts are supposed to instinctually back the Saudis. While radicals from both sects have been recruited on either side of the Saudi-Iran military conflict, the proxy warfare of the 1980s has gradually evolved into the mass killings of Pakistani Shia Muslims, resulting in the local Shia querying whether it can survive in safety in Pakistan.

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    Shiite Muslims children stand on representations of Israeli and U.S. flags during a rally to condemn the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Islamabad, Pakistan, Jan. 5, 2020 Anjum Naveed,AP
    Khan has traditionally enjoyed the support of large sections of the Shia population, mostly thanks to the contrast with his predecessor Nawaz Sharif, whose party formed alliances with groups calling for the genocide of Shia, and who is still considered a stooge of Saudi Arabia, where he has spent many years in exile.

    However, in his year and a half as premier, Khan’s cozying up to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has evolved from a position of geopolitical acquiescence to the virtual establishment of Pakistan as a Saudi client state.

    Not only was Khan in Riyadh to provide diplomatic support to MBS amid global outcry over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he recently backed out from attending an international Islamic summit in Kuala Lumpur last month, after Saudi Arabia complained that the Malaysian conference was intended to rival the Saudi-friendly Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

    But there's another reason why Khan, who has largely reduced himself to trolling the Indian government’s abuses against minorities – often amidst parallel violations in his own country – took so long to respond in public to the Soleimani crisis, and it's the same reason that both Pompeo and the U.S. defense secretary Mark Esper spoke with Army Chief Bajwa without any need for the façade of a diplomatic channel with the civilian leadership.

    We have a selected Prime Minister also @ImranKhanPTI - pls give him a courtesy call for optics - thanks!

    — Saadia Bukhari (@SaadiaBukhari) January 8, 2020

    During that five-day period, Khan had been busy spearheading amendments to the Army Act, For many, the controversially worded bills have formalized a "controlled democracy" managed entirely by the military establishment, with even the self-avowed custodians of civilian supremacy among opposition parties falling completely in line.

    The recent escalation of the perpetual conflict with India had bizarrely been used as a rationale to extend Gen Bajwa’s tenure, one key part of the legislation. But then the killing of Soleimani and the ensuing "new regional situation" was cited as additional justification on the day the bill was bulldozed through the National Assembly.

    With that formality out of the way, the country's real – military – rulers can shout "neutrality" and "Pakistan first" as much as they want at home, while negotiating rates for Pakistani troops to serve Saudi Arabia. The same two-faced tactics were used by former military dictators Gen Zia-ul-Haq and Gen Pervez Musharraf, who signed up for lucrative U.S.-sponsored assignments in Afghanistan in 1979 and 2001 respectively.

    Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Oct, 15, 2019 ,AP
    Khan’s subservience to MBS is the consequence of a skewed policy carved out by Pakistan's military rulers, not its elected leaders, based on what they see as a perfect symbiosis between Pakistan’s economic needs and Saudi military requirements. A similar correlation is permanently scribbled on the drawing board at Pakistan's army HQ in Rawalpindi, with regards to the U.S. and its ambitions in the region.

    And Pakistan's real rulers are keen to cash in on the post-Soleimani turmoil. Its ex-Army Chief General Raheel Sharif commands the so-called Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) –formed to counter precisely the kind of threats that Tehran has been making in the aftermath of Soleimani’s killing. Washington resumed military training with Pakistani troops this week.

    Pakistan indeed has boots on the ground and expertise to offer the Saudis. It can offer intelligence sharing – despite its duplicitous past – and swathes of territory near its western border, to the U.S. for any period of deployment.

    [​IMG]
    Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives for the Global Refugee Forum at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 17, 2019 DENIS BALIBOUSE/ REUTERS

    Pakistan needs the payback. In addition to funds earmarked for military assistance, Pakistan would expect bailouts and investments from Saudi Arabia, and U.S. backing for consolidating financial support from the International Monetary Fund and to relax its fiscal crackdown on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

    The Soleimani aftermath provided a very clear reminder that Pakistan's military is the country's undisputed hegemon – and now its first-amongst-unequals is enshrined in law, the army has no qualms about how publicly that status is confirmed.

    And for both Washington and Riyadh, a military-run Pakistan, with the window-dressing of a democratically-elected prime minister, is their preference: it facilitates direct coordination with those who are actually in charge of the country.

    What remains of Imran Khan’s remaining credibility – if not his seat in the PM's office – is the ultimate victim of the military's power-grab and its particular view of geopolitics, given that almost the entirety of his political career has been founded on the now-quixotic and fantastical idea of an autonomous Pakistan that would no longer be a mercenary for the U.S. or for Saudi Arabia.

    Kunwar Khuldune Shahid is a Pakistan-based journalist and a correspondent at The Diplomat. His work has been published in The Guardian, The Independent, Foreign Policy, Courrier International, New Statesman, The Telegraph , MIT Review, and Arab News among other publications. Twitter: @khuldune


     
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  2. Vedas

    Vedas FULL MEMBER

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    Are Chinese investments in Pakistan enough for the state to slowly move away from the Saudi sphere?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
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  3. PakFactor

    PakFactor FULL MEMBER

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    Not at this stage it's still in infrastructure development phase mostly. Pakistan labor force isn't as trained as Chinese or other developed countries hence the some what slow progress as they have to fly Chinese in to complete certain tasks (engineering, architecture, zoning etc). Though at this time were not fully taking advantage of this as well like opening up Community College/Trade School type programs to train our labor force while the Chinese are working (sort of internship type program) -- we need enough force to maintain the infrastructure as well.

    I'd give it another 5-10 years to see some sort of solid activity.

    Besides CPEC we need other export markets to expand like Pakistan Arms Exports those are some big money makers -- ship to African countries for example where the West wouldn't even sell. As discussed by other members we don't have solid marketing or aggressiveness to do certain things.

    The faster we can develop an export market we can get out of the poisonous Middle East relationship. Longer we stay we will get stuck and dragged into their internal and external conflicts.
     
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  4. MastanKhan

    MastanKhan PDF VETERAN

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    Hi,

    No---and why do you have a problem with SAUDI sphere---?
     
  5. Retired Troll

    Retired Troll ELITE MEMBER

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    Pakistan's national animal is not a Vulture
     
  6. American Pakistani

    American Pakistani ELITE MEMBER

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    @waz @The Eagle @Irfan Baloch

    Here you go. Another sectarian mental case zombie.

    BTW what a retarded title by author. Didn't read after that biased title. Trying to push for peace in the region is equal to taking advantage of ME crises?
     
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  7. Vedas

    Vedas FULL MEMBER

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    I apologize, I made a great error in the thread message there. I will correct myself.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
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  8. American Pakistani

    American Pakistani ELITE MEMBER

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    Forum rules are clear. You are yet again violating forum rules. Why do you have to put anyone's sect or religion? I don't know about you in Canada, but how about if US and Canada start saying Muslim terrorists this Muslim terrorists that. We wouldn't like it, correct? We will call them all sort of names. So why should or why do we have liberty to name anyone's sect?

    In short, my point is. A bad apple is a bad apple no matter which grocery store you buy it from. I hope you got it.
     
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  9. Pakistan Space Agency

    Pakistan Space Agency BANNED

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    Another anti-Saudi-Pak alliance article?

    Also, notice how the article tries to give the impression: Pakistan must back Iran or expect civil war (Iranian attacks).

    Iranian threats don't work on Pakistan.

    Iranian drone shot down by PAF, confirms FO
     
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  10. MastanKhan

    MastanKhan PDF VETERAN

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    Hi,

    What big shia population---. It is around 20 % ( correct me please )---but there are too many members in parliament in proportion to population---.

    Young pakistanis need to learn to adjust to this world or the world of 2000 years old---.

    You shock me---when you write " when we can become a truly independent nation that isn't dependant on other nations financially "---what kind of talk is this---.

    You want to be independant---then start at home---. Just have relationship with your mom and dad and with sisters till they get married---then once they are married---kick them out of your lives---.

    Please do the same with you uncles aunts---first cousins second cousins---other uncles and aunts---distant relatives---and then your biradri---. If you can do that---then you can kick the other nations away---.

    There is only one entity in this universe that is alone---and we know this entity as ALLAH---The One God---.

    Other than that we are never alone---we will make friends---excuse me---please dump your friends as well---because you don't want to be dependent---.

    I just want to know who taught you that---I really want to know---was it your teachers---was it your parents---grand parents---who told you that you don't want friends---.
     
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  11. PaulSimon

    PaulSimon BANNED

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    What is it?
     
  12. Retired Troll

    Retired Troll ELITE MEMBER

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    It's Markhor
     
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  13. Vedas

    Vedas FULL MEMBER

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    My point was that Iran has influence in Pakistan. Like such Shias, there are some Sunnis in Pakistan who are more inclined towards terrorist groups operating in Yemen and Iraq and cause destruction all around our country. What I am trying to say is that this can be exploited to cause issues in the state. This doesn't mean that I support any sort of horrific subjugation of Shias in Pakistan like under Zia ul-Haq with the 1988 Gilgit-Baltistan Massacre.

    Shias, Qadiyanis, Sunnis, Sikhs, etc alike are the children of our soil. My intention with that message was not to cause sectarianism. I will be more careful in the future.
     
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  14. Imad.Khan

    Imad.Khan SENIOR MEMBER

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    Seriously, you question the loyalty of over 40 million people? I would like to ask you, if for some reason we end going to war with Saudis, do you reckon the 180 million sunni Pakistanis will fight them to defend the homeland or let the Saudis kill us?

    Also if we are allowed to defend our holy sites in Mecca and Medina, why be hypocritical if Shias want to defend their shrines in Iran/Iraq
     
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  15. Vedas

    Vedas FULL MEMBER

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    I DON'T question the loyalty of ALL SHIAS, I corrected myself stating that some Shias in Pakistan are truly loyal to the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic of Iran and thus could cause trouble due to our inclination towards Saudi Arabia. I further mentioned that this isn't just the case for some Shias as there are some Sunnis who believe that democracy is kufr and that ISIS is the legitimate Caliphate. I presented this idea due to the current situation in the ME.
     
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