The price Pakistan pays for being a client state

Pakistan again seems to be making a grave error of judgement by being a willing partner of Saudi interests in the ongoing conflict in Syria. Pakistan has once already experimented with an interventionist policy in Afghanistan and has paid a serious price for it and continues to do so even now. Knowing well that the situation in Syria is too complex for any outside force to completely understand, let alone arrive at a solution, the reality seems to be lost on Pakistan, which is perhaps under an obligation to Saudi Arabia to side with its interventionist policy in Syria. Realizing this and given its own forgettable experience in Iraq, the US has deemed it reasonable to be out of this conflict. The conflict in Syria seems to be more complex and serious than the one in Iraq in 2003. Here it is not only the Govt forces which are involved in brazen killing and murder of civilians, but also a motley group of international fighters who are more than willing to unleash their own terror.

Notwithstanding the fact that the slaughter and killing accompanied by massive refugee problem is a big humanitarian tragedy and crisis, it seems a folly for any external power to try and set things right. Any external intervention, especially without any UN Sanction can only exacerbate the tragedy in Syria. But that has not stopped Saudi Arabia from drumming up support for its intervention in that country. The Saudi concern stems more from sectarian considerations, than any concern for humanity. Unfortunately Saudi Arabia has no shortage of money to be a part of this conflict and actively fund other willing nations to be a part of this misdirected venture. About Pakistan becoming part of this Saudi led intervention, George Mason University professor Ahsan Butt has put it very succinctly. “Is it wise and advisable to wade into a sectarian civil war two thousand miles away? Obviously not. Some states can afford to do so, and bless their heart; they are intervening to their heart’s content. So be it. We do not have to join them.” 

What drives Pakistan to be part of such a misadventure, which look completely seems suicidal? It is not that the Govt of Pakistan has suddenly felt the pain of Syrians who have been getting massacred in the last few years. It is no sympathy for the ‘’Muslim Ummah’’. Behind this act lies Pakistan’s eternal problem of being a cash strapped nation. The simple fact is that Pakistan cannot pay its own bills. Knowing full well the weakness of the Pakistani State, Saudi Arabia, with its huge reserves of petro dollars is willing to underwrite Pakistan’s unrealistic and unsustainable model of governance. There is absolutely no shortage of capital in the world today to finance wars and there is also no shortage either of State and non State actors who want to be a part of such wars and interventions.

It would be in place here to mention that Pakistan has lost all sense of pride ever since it started accepting huge wades of American cash which went into financing the Afghan war against the erstwhile Soviet Union. That war got over more than 25 years ago, but Pakistan’s appetite for foreign aid and monetary help has not yet satiated. No self respecting nation can be so self destructive as Pakistan is, but then it hardly surprises anyone now.

Right from the days of Gen Zia, to Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf and then Zardari and again Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan has continued this play of musical chairs either with the IMF or some other friendly nations. It is high time that Pakistan realize that one day the music will stop and Pakistan will have only itself to blame for being suicidal.

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