Imam Putin and Islam’s custodians

Given the military leadership’s refusal to be dragged into Saudi Arabia’s overt and covert wars of aggression against Yemen and Syria, our government’s reiteration of continuing support for the kingdom ‘in fighting terrorism and against any threat to its territorial integrity’ might sound like just another hollow platitude but it is actually far more nefarious than that. It would be unwise not to be mindful of how immoral our stated position is and the dangers it entails.

After continuing to bomb Yemen for almost a year, Saudi Arabia is now talking about sending ground troops to Syria. The terrorist proxies unleashed on the country in association with Turkey and other members of the US-led cabal since 2011 were obviously not enough. As the armed forces of Syria, with the support of Russia, Iran and Iraq, make minced meat of the proxy terrorists, liberating territories from their barbaric hold, disrupting their oil trade and cutting off their supply lines, the proponents of regime change are gearing up for direct intervention.

In this very rapidly evolving global scenario when the tectonic plates of geo-politics are shifting, and given the fact that we are right in the middle of it, the internal Foreign Office document outlining our foreign policy priorities for 2016 which was circulated by the Foreign Secretary and reported by The Nation this week, is a huge disappointment. At the same time, it gives us some insight into the seemingly directionless foreign policy of the Nawaz government, a government that refuses to appoint a Foreign Minister at this most crucial of times.

Does it make sense for Pakistan to pledge its support for a reckless state on a rampage, attacking its neighbours and exporting terrorism across the Muslim world? Is it not clear as daylight that Saudi Arabia is a major sponsor of terrorism and has nothing to do with fighting it?

Does it make sense to go on pledging our support even when it is obvious that the Saudis don’t care about our concerns and spurn our sincere efforts at mediation? By attacking their Muslim brothers, aren’t the self proclaimed custodians of Islam inviting threats to the kingdom’s territorial integrity? It is not only immoral but also dangerous for us to make such policy statements.

Some friends yawn at the mention of morality in international affairs but, to my mind, the ongoing Third World War is principally about introducing at least a modicum of it in world affairs. What is being challenged here is the self-awarded right of the US and its mini-me puppets like Saudi Arabia to flout the UN framework at will; bombing countries and strangling economies resisting their iron grip, replacing regimes they don’t like, and killing, injuring and displacing millions of innocent civilians and their children through direct military intervention or terrorist proxies.

The geo-strategic ambitions of China and Russia and competing interests of the emerging and entrenched powers is all very well, but there is more to this world war than a scramble for resources and conflicting national interests, hegemony over sea and oil pipeline routes and monopoly over world markets. What significantly distinguishes the China-Russia nexus from the trigger-happy US-led cabal is the former’s insistence that this international competition should take place within the framework of international law as laid down by the UN.

The importance of this principled stance demanding some method to the hyper-materialistic madness of our contemporary world for saving it from more widespread destruction cannot be overstated. The ruined cities and ravaged societies of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan are depressing monuments to the unbridled ambition of the US-led cabal. And their list of targets doesn’t end there.

For countries like Pakistan who cannot hope to resist this super-powered onslaught on its own, the good news is that China and Russia are not only talking about the fundamental principle of rule-of-law for maintaining world order, their broad-based alliance has also shown the determination to act and actively resist the unilateralist military and economic badmashi of the US-led empire.

They have taken the wind out of the sails of its hypocritical and interventionist freedom and democracy agenda by upholding the right of sovereign states to develop without any prodding, nudging or pushing around by the champions of human civilisation carrying a repackaged version of their white man’s burden.

Interestingly, the Foreign Office document states that ‘Pakistan will continue to pursue a balanced and principles-based approach in its relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, GCC and other countries in the Middle East.’ To call our position balanced and principles-based is a big bad joke.

It would have been balanced if we had said the same things about Iran that we keep reiterating about Saudi Arabia. To make any claims about our policy being principles-based, we should start talking about fighting terrorism with Iran that is helping Syria defeat terrorist proxies, rather than repeated reiteration of the same for Saudi Arabia that is spreading terrorism and attacking one brother Muslim country after another.

Contrast this Saudi duplicity with Putin’s Russia which is confronting the bane-on-our-world, the doddering Uncle Sam who refuses to die, head on. The country is at the vanguard of articulating a vision of a world that we all deserve and challenging the fraudulent development paradigm of the US-led empire being shoved down everyone’s throat.

In so many ways President Putin is what they call a Hazir Imam, the Imam of the present time, literally a living leader who guides us through this day and age. In the classic tradition of Imams, he’s stood up against tyranny and falsehood. And just as it is befitting for an Imam of our time, he has not inherited his Imamhood but earned it.

It is not only Putin’s sincerity to his mother Russia and her citizens that has elevated him heads above other so-called world leaders. It is also his bravery in defending the interest of Russian people and the wisdom with which he is fighting the many-headed and many-armed devil, in person and on so many fronts. What makes it a happy ending is that he’s doing it successfully. May God help him do more.

Jalees Hazir

The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be contacted at

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