Pakistan in Yemen

Things have been unfolding very strangely in the Middle East since last three months. The world witnessed Israel flexing its diplomatic muscles in UAE and KSA. Likewise, the murder of eminent journalist in Saudi consulate followed by sanctions on Iran and abrupt U-turn in Yemen’s conflict by KSA when it asked the US to stop refueling its fighter jets in Yemen area, are all those events that can’t go unnoticed by policy makers around the world. So, Pakistan follows the suit and decides to enter the Arabian stage.

Pakistan has offered to play a role in resolution of Yemen conflict. As if all the internal conflicts here in Pakistan have been resolved and government has now ample time to solve issues of other countries. Although, apparently, the offer of conflict resolution sounds quite right, given the scale o f atrocities being committed in Yemen and pressure from the world to end these brutal killings of civilians, however, before making any decision, Islamabad needs to realize the fact that Yemen is not a simple battleground of two forces where a team from Pakistan would go and ask government and rebels to come and sit on the table to negotiate; rather it has become a proxy battlefield that now involves various players such as Iran, KSA, USA,UK, UAE and Canada. All of these stakeholders have either direct interests or indirect vested interest in the continuation of this war. So, is it advisable for Pakistan to poke its nose in a messy anarchic ongoing situation and especially when there are already a number of players involved?

Let’s, for the sake of discussion, assume that Pakistan’s offer is accepted by Iran and KSA, two major players calling shorts in the Middle East. Now, Canada, USA and UK have stakes of their weapon market in Yemen. If war in Yemen ends, it means no more weapon- supply to KSA and Yemen’s government to fight Houthi rebels and other groups. So, why on earth would these three players ever wish this war to be stopped and that too at a time when back at home their economies are suffering and only hope is the revival of industry and creation of more jobs in the face of increasing demand of weapons?

Secondly, Pakistan has already faced the music of mistakes after it undertook the responsibility of protecting Afghans against Soviet aggression back in 80s. Those who were once considered to be the heroes of afghan war are now being treated as terrorists by their masters. What is the possibility that our innocent policy makers would not meet the same unintended fate again in case of Yemen war? Perhaps aren’t we already paying the price for being a frontline ally in the war against terror?

The best thing our government can do is to get its own house in order first, divert all of its attention towards addressing the internal challenges and should treat all other external issues as the secondary ones. The clock is ticking very fast and time span of five years is just a matter of time. If major internal issues of Pakistan remained unaddressed, the incumbent government must think of packing and leaving Islamabad for good.

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