New York: Nawaz Sharif government has been cautioned of getting embroiled in the Middle East conflict and suggested to immediately end its involvement in the Saudi-led Islamic Military alliance, Dawn, a leading Pakistani newspaper said in its editorial on Tuesday.
Saudi-led Islamic military alliance consists of 41 Muslim-majority nations created to combat the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and miltant threats across northern and western Africa.
“Saudi Arabia is and will remain an important ally of Pakistan but responsible friends must also be unafraid to speak the principled truth and protect themselves from colossal errors by the other, “the editorial said.
Referring to the high level of diplomacy being conducted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa in Saudi Arabia, the daily stated that “Pakistan should have a dual focus i.e. to help defuse tensions among the various state protagonists, each of which Pakistan has friendly relations with, and withdraw from the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance.”
Pointing to the fact that Pakistan cannot afford to get embroiled in conflict in the Middle East as Turkish state-run-media has carried a bizarre assertion that “the Pakistani Parliament is considering sending thousands of troops to Qatar underlines the risks involved in a conflict,” the Dawn editorial reported.
The Pakistan Foreign Office has emphatically denied the possibility of Pakistani troops being sent to Qatar.
Pakistan’s national interest lies in playing the role of a neutral stakeholder in the current crisis in the Gulf that has pitted Qatar against Saudi Arabia and its allies including the UAE and Bahrain, it further said.
As the Saudi leadership has made it amply clear that it primarily wants to contain Iran and, now, cut Qatar down to size, it is therefore, suggested that Pakistan should operate as a neutral stakeholder so as to play a role of an interlocutor to help rescue a region from a greater crisis as Islamabad share friendly ties with all the Middle Eastern and Gulf countries embroiled in the current crisis-from Saudi Arabia to Qatar and from Egypt to Iran, the newspaper stated.
“But if a crisis-fighting role is not something Pakistan can realistically take on, there must be an emphatic signal sent to all sides: Pakistan values its relations with all countries and the Pakistani national interest requires it to stay neutral in the current crisis. That should not be impossible, but it would require Pakistan to suspend its military participation in the IMA and withdraw retired Gen Raheel Sharif from his command of future IMA forces,” the editorial said.
Simply, recent events in the Middle East have shattered the assumptions on which Pakistan’s original inclusion in the IMA was premised.