When Pakistan was invited by Saudi Arabia to join the Sunni alliance against the Houthi militia in Yemen, the South Asian country was put into a loyalty test by the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’ open invitation is a difficulty for Pakistan as an ‘yes’ decision means a disguised conflict with Iran. More than that, joining Saudi will deepen the sectarian violence within Pakistan where one fifth of the population is Shiite.
It is interesting to see that how Pakistan being a South Asian country, slowly dragged into the Middle East rivalries.
The drift in the Middle East is deep in recent years because the Saudis fear strengthening of Iran led Shiite consolidation in Iraq.
Similarly, the latest Lausanne agreement is seen as a victory for Tehran. Saudi has already shown interest in giving Pakistan a greater role and partnership given that Pakistan is the only Sunni Nuclear force.
Pakistan’s present dilemma is not self made, rather Saudi induced. It shows how the Kingdom has used Pakistan as a laboratory to execute extremist ideologies providing money and ideology over decades. In Middle East and South Asia, it is religion which determines culture and politics.
When Osama Bin Laden made Pakistan his safe haven, it revealed many things about Pakistan. There are large number of extremist religious practitioners like Osama with foreign descent who receive money and ideology from other countries. With madrasas and the clergy undergoing external conditioning, the South Asian country’s cultural and political features are under transition to reflect extremism.
This external influence has made Pakistan to shed almost all of its pre-independence values and features of a South Asian society. It has created Taliban with the company of Saudi fundamentalism and American Imperialism in hope for strategic mileage. Many similar entities have emerged and gradually from a moderate religious country, Pakistan has emerged as one of the largest producers of extremism.
Islamabad has always shown a thirst to form alliances continually and many including USA, and now China in its ego centric rivalry with India. But such alliances have made it only a puppet state rather than coming out with own identity with a pursuit towards economic progress.
History shows that underdevelopment and religious extremism are cousins that coexist. Pakistan’s lenience to the latter will bring only larger miseries for this great civilizational power and its people in future course unless a conscious deviation is initiated by its political leadership before it is being too late.