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Middle East: The Taliban’s new killing field

The Government of Pakistan received a cash gift of $1.5 billion from friendly Arab countries on “No Special Occasion”. Undeniably, cash is always welcome in Pakistan as aid, charity or gift. Indeed, this generous and mysterious “gift” helped Pakistan ease economic pressure, strengthened the devalued rupee, helped shore up foreign exchange reserves and meet the debt-service obligations.

According to the Federal Minister for Finance, Ishaq Dar, “It was neither a loan nor given in return for any services.”  Maybe not for the Government of Pakistan, but for common citizens this sounds too good to be true.

There is one adage that has held true since time immemorial: There ain’tno such thing as a free lunch. So what's the catch?

●     Saudi Arabia wants Pakistan to supply arms and ammunition to Syrian rebels.

●     Saudi Arabia wants Pakistan’s support to topple Bashar al Assad in Syria and the formation of an interim governing body.

●     Saudi Arabia wants more mercenaries and ex-military officials to help suppress the uprising in Bahrain

●     Saudi Arabia wants Pakistan to abandon the Iran gas pipeline.

●     Saudi Arabia wants ready-made Pakistani Nukes.

The Saudis fear that the United States is willing to accept Iran’s position as regional leader. Iran has increased its influence in Iraq and through Hezbollah in Lebanon, and if Bashar al Assad’s regime stays in power, Iran wins in Syria too. Saudi Arabia and many Gulf states are afraid that the so called “Shia block” will expand from the Persian Gulf to the Eastern Mediterranean shore, if Assad stays in power.

Saudis are less worried about a nuclear Iran as compared to the United States. There are reports that Saudis already paid for the bomb and Pakistan is ready to ship nukes to Saudi Arabia when needed.

Pakistani forces have a long history of meddling in Middle East conflicts.

●      In 1970, the then King of Jordan asked Brigadier Zia ulHaq (later Chief of Army Staff and President of Pakistan) to take over the command of a Jordanian division for an attack on Palestinian guerrillas. A military action also known as “Black September”. PLO chief Yasser Arafat later claimed that the Jordanian army killed between 10,000 and 25,000 Palestinians.

●      Fighter Pilots of the Pakistan Air Force flew aircraft of the Royal Saudi Air Force to repel an incursion from South Yemen in 1969

●      During the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, Pakistani Air Force pilots flew combat missions in Syrian aircrafts, and shot down Israeli fighters.

●      In the 1970s and 1980s up to 15,000 Pakistani troops were stationed in the kingdom, some in a brigade combat force near the Israeli-Jordanian-Saudi border

●      1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, Pakistan sent troops to protect the Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

●      During Arab spring 2011, Bahrain has reported to have recruited 2,500 Pakistanis (mercenaries) to serve in its security forces to quell protesters from the Shiite majority.

Saudi Arabia has been funneling large sums of money into Pakistan since the 1970s to promote its anti-Shia strand of Wahabi Islam. Banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan TTP (mostly Pashtoon Taliban) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Punjabi Taliban) both are followers of Saudi-sponsored Wahabi extremism.

The Associated Press and Reuters reported that hundreds of Pakistani jihadists, including members of the Pakistani Taliban and some from the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, are fighting in Syria along with AlQaeda.

Our aim and purpose is to fight against the shites and eliminate them A Pakistani Taliban fighter in Syria told The Associated Press.

First official visit of the King of Bahrain to Pakistan in four decades has risen concerned in Pakistan. Conflicts between the Shiite and Sunni Muslims are a recurring problem in Bahrain. The Sunni minority, to which the ruling al-Khalifah family belongs, controls nearly all the power and wealth in the country. The Shiites continue to agitate for more representation in government.

There is a growing fear in Pakistan that Bahrain would recruit Punjabi Taliban's as “mercenaries” to help suppress the Shiites uprising in Bahrain. The current government in Pakistan has close ties with the banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Punjabi Talibans).

According to Long War Journal “Punjab Provincial Law Minister RanaSanaullah is under fire for publicly campaigning with top leaders of the radical Sipah-e-Sahaba, the forerunner to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an al Qaeda pawn that provides muscle for the terror group.”

MuttahidaQaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain has urged the government of Pakistan not to indulge in a war to serve the interests of other countries and should not repeat mistakes of the past.

After three decades, Pakistan is still paying the price for the Afghan war. Terrorism, Jihadists, Extremism, and a weak economy are all gifts of bad policies made by former rulers during the Afghan war. Once again Pakistan is at the crossroads of national integrity or regional instability.

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