Stories about Saudi Arabia

It is about time General Raheel Sharif recuses himself from the Saudi-led military alliance

When former General Raheel Sharif, shortly after taking office, started and pursued Operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists, the entire country applauded his efforts. Similarly, when Operation ‘clean up’ started in Karachi, large sections of the Urdu speaking population applauded General Sharif’s efforts despite the sometimes heavy handed tactics of the Rangers. This even included some long-time supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The lawlessness and violence in the streets of Karachi had just become too much for everyone. If it took the dismantling of some formations of the MQM and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) (for example, the Aman committee) to bring it down, so be it. General Sharif’s single-minded devotion to his job and his statement that he will not ask ...

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If no major non-Arab nation has supported the Saudi bloc, so why pressure Pakistan, Saudi Arabia?

As is often the case in regional conflicts, outside players may feel compelled to toe the line of one of the parties. Thus, in the latest conflict between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt (also known as the Saudi bloc), Pakistan finds itself walking a diplomatic and economic tightrope. That is, until the last few days, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told King Salman of Saudi Arabia that Pakistan will not be taking sides in the conflict. As this commentary will illustrate, I believe that this is the commendable choice as it is in Pakistan’s interest to remain neutral, if not lean, towards Qatar based ...

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Why a ban on Qatar may not be in the interest of the countries joining forces against them

While the announcement that several Middle Eastern counties including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Yemen were outright banning all relations with Qatar, the fact that they actually did it has had reverberations across the globe. Saudi Arabia declared a complete ban on all air, sea and land routes into and out of Qatar while UAE and Bahrain demanded the expulsion of Qatari diplomats from their countries. At last count, Libya and Maldives had joined the growing chorus against Qatar. Qatar is a tiny emirate jutting out as a peninsula from Saudi Arabia towards Iran. While it is a member of the international oil supplying nation group Organisation ...

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After the embarrassing treatment meted by the Saudis, is it time for “Go Nawaz Go”?

Pakistan has suffered yet another excruciating defeat on an international platform. With the recent verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pakistan could not have dealt with a more severe blow than the humiliating treatment shown by the Saudis at the Arab-American-Islamic Summit. Why? Because apparently we have an incompetent, self-serving, corrupt man serving as our prime minister. Though matters have gotten worse after his first two terms, we keep making the same mistake by electing him over and over again. There was a time when the top office holders of our state received warm welcomes no matter where they went. When Ayub Khan visited Saudi Arabia ...

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Why framing Shia genocide as a sectarian conflict only trivialises the problem

One of the most important factors which determine the way an issue is understood, debated and addressed is the way it is framed in the media. Framing becomes extremely important as it affects the discourse, narrative, and ultimately the kind of solutions which are brought to the table. Knowing its importance, supporters and opponents of a contentious issue often try to frame it to their advantage. For example, in the US, the debate around abortion is often framed as pro-life by Conservatives. This is a very powerful and effective construct as it creates the impression that those who choose abortion are anti-life and hence ...

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Donald Trump will be giving a lecture on Islam to Muslims in Riyadh – let that sink in

Blowing trumpets, doves flying overhead and the awaiting red carpet. To many, this scenery invokes fairy tales of kings visiting their prefectures on gilded carriages with soldiers in tow. The princes and princesses line up to greet their guest along with the nobility, hoping a beautiful guest from within the entourage would catch their eye and sparks would fly. Not much was expected to change from this picture apart from the medieval setting when Donald Trump landed in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. This is Trump’s first visit to a foreign country and surprisingly, he chose Saudi Arabia as his destination. Surprising is too mute a word to capture the reality ...

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For the US, friends and enemies aren’t important, only interests are

Growing up, we form friendships, alliances and enmities in playgrounds and classrooms. There are clear rules that govern our interactions and attitudes towards those we call friends and those we regard as enemies or our friends’ enemies. It’s mostly cut and dry and there’s very little room for ambiguity. As we grow up, we begin to see shades of grey and the thick dividing lines that existed in our minds begin to blur. However, somewhere that conditioned perception of a clear demarcation between good versus bad and friend versus enemy persists in our psyche. International relations are complex. There are layers and subtexts that ...

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Is Pakistan willing to jeopardise its relations with Iran for Saudi Arabia?

It was shocking to hear Defence Minister Khwaja Asif proudly confirm that the government has agreed to the Saudi request and will allow former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif to command the Saudi-led military alliance of 34 Muslim nations to fight terrorism. However, observers are concerned that the coalition could be used for future conflicts against Iran and its ally Yemen.  The National Assembly had earlier agreed that it would not be in the country’s interest to take sides in the present war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen (Iran’s ally), and had decided that Pakistan would stay neutral in the ...

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The world must not allow the situation in Yemen to fester anymore

The Middle East has had a tumultuous history and the region’s politics have been anything but composed and calm. There are many fault lines that run through the geographic, social and ethnic divisions, and as a result, conflict and turmoil have never been too far from taking centre stage. The latest conflict to erupt in these volatile climes has been the civil war in Yemen which has been raging for the last two years. Yemen is one of the poorest and most backward countries in the Arabian Peninsula, yet it is also very strategically located. This makes it a fertile ground for various interests to ...

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Dear Saudi, their only crime was being born transgender, and that’s not a crime at all

Amna, a 35-year-old from the Mingora part of Swat and 26-year-old Meeno from Peshawar were killed in Saudi Arabia this week in police custody. The death of any prisoner at the hands of law enforcement is already disturbing as it is, but these two were allegedly tortured to death. Alongside 33 others, they were arrested, placed inside sacks, and beaten, and beaten, and then beaten some more until the two succumbed to their injuries. Imagine being helpless, alone, inside a dark claustrophobic sack, and struck on the body and head with canes and kicks until dying painfully. There is very ...

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