By asking for ‘Sunni soldiers’ Saudi Arabia is trying to divide Pakistan Army

If I were to tell you that Saudi Arabia wants the Pakistan Army, but only the Sunni soldiers and officers, what would your reaction be?

If I were to tell you that the training contingent that is in Saudi right now is only Sunni soldiers and officers, would you still believe that the Yemen war is justified?

I understand that you want to believe that the conflict in Yemen is justified and that our holy sites are threatened by the Houthi rebels, but that is simply not the case. This is not a battle for the integrity of Saudi Arabia, but an expansionist power grab by them to re-instate their chosen leader.

When you have spent the past 2 weeks telling the world that you want the Pakistan Army involved in the conflict, or as the media has reported it “the Pakistan Army wants to be involved,” only to turn and demand that only Sunni officers and soldiers are sent to fight, you have to start to wonder what the greater game is here.

Let’s rewind and understand what the KSA has asked for. During the first few days of the conflict, the mantra was that Pakistan wanted to be involved. This mantra then morphed, as the world watched Pakistan stand neutral, to a position that the Saudis wanted a 3-4 year deployment of a full corps of the Army under their command. The recent meeting between the “dignitaries” of the Government of Pakistan and the Saudi monarchy determined that Pakistan’s involvement would only be to protect the integrity of Saudi Arabia and the holy sites. The problem is that when you put our soldiers under the command of the Saudi monarchy as requested, our commanders are no longer the command unit for them. They take their orders from Riyadh, not Rawalpindi. If they are ordered to storm Yemen, they must follow the orders.

But the game here is much larger and we need to understand the context.

In the past few months, the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force and SSG Commandos have made great advances against the TTP and their affiliated organizations around the country. The GOP has been pushed to take action against the extremist madrasahs that are funded illegally by foreign countries, many of which are these same countries asking for our assistance now. When we are nearing the day where we can honestly say that the terrorist threat in Pakistan has been broken permanently, the Saudis have launched a campaign against the Houthis even though this conflict has been building for over 6 months.

The army and the population of Pakistan are united for the first time in many years to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and extremism, the Saudi are now trying to not only divide the population, but divide our army as well. When a soldier puts on a uniform, he fights for the country that he calls home, not the religious beliefs that they carry individually. For a request/order to be made that the only acceptable soldiers for the Yemen conflict are Sunni and no Shia needs to be sent, it is clear that this is an attempt to divide our armed forces along religious grounds.

The Pakistan Army is roughly 70% Sunni and to deny deployment to the other 30% smacks of discrimination and favoritism. Do they believe that a professional military like Pakistan’s can’t see beyond their individual religious beliefs to fight for a unified, justified cause? If that is the case, then why ask Pakistan to send its armed forces?

Unless of course your objective is to cause division within our military command and fighting soldiers.

When we talk about force impact analyses, things like this have a dramatic effect on the morale and motivation of each soldier. I’m not talking in the context of the fight in Yemen, but the fight here in Pakistan. When we dare to say that one religious faith isn’t as committed as another, we are walking a fine line towards eroding the unity of our armed forces, which is a death sentence to a professional force like the Pakistan Army.

April 6th is a massive day for the country. The President has summoned a joint session of the Parliament to debate the involvement of the Pakistan military in Saudi Arabia. I believe that this will not be a debate, but a convincing of why the military must be involved. As we have seen on our media, the “gifts of the Saudis” are being paraded before the nation, as evidence of their support of Pakistan and the people.

Let’s look at where the country stands. The liberal political party, the Pakistan People’s Party, has thrown their support behind the war along with the conservative Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The religious political parties are quiet in where we should stand. The media is spending their time making the case that the military must be sent, even though none of the holy sites are threatened. Their biased reporting has split the country and seeded confusion in the general population, making this decision much harder.

But please don’t be fooled!

Pakistan has paid with 80,000 innocent lives. These same countries that we are considering to protect today funded the killers. But when the media makes this case, ask yourself these questions:

- When we started our fight against terrorists, which one of these countries offered equipment, materials or financial support to our armed forces?

- Which one stopped funding the extremist madrasahs and the groups that they currently fund?

- While we are locked in a battle for our existence, why are we being asked to provide soldiers for a fight that has nothing to do with us, but has the potential of causing massive bloodshed within our borders if we chosen one side over the other? And why is no one talking about that potential?

And the biggest question you need to ask and demand an answer for is:

- When did the Pakistan Army become a mercenary force for hire to the highest bidder? Ready to fight in any country of the world for the right price.

Remember Lal Masjid, where the media and the population all wanted the Pakistan Army to take action against the terrorists in the middle of Islamabad. When the Army finally took action, the majority of the country shifted their position to calling the Lal Masjid brigade victims, forgetting what they were saying only hours before.

Now, put think about what the reaction of these same people will be if an innocent person is killed because of a Pakistan Army soldier’s bullet or a bomb being dropped from a Pakistan Air Force fighter plane.

Why do you want to stand in support of this for our soldiers, our brothers, our fathers?

Stand with Pakistan today. Stand with the Pakistan military today.

Stop believing the media spin and remember what they did during Lal Masjid. They beat the war drums demanding action and then they called the public media trials to convince the army and our soldiers of killing innocents.

Are you ready to do this again?

Khalid Muhammad

Khalid Muhammad is an entrepreneur, published novelist, defense analyst and political strategist. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

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