Saudi Arabia: No country for Pakistani brides
The untoward behaviour from the Saudi government of reportedly laying off 30,000 illegal Pakistani workers hit yet another ebb when Saudi men were recently banned from bringing brides from four nationalities including Pakistan that is amongst the relegated list. Other countries languishing in this ill-famed category are Bangladesh, Burma and Chad.
A cursory glance at the names of aforementioned countries makes me wonder how insignificant Pakistan has become in the greater scheme of things. It reduces Information Minister Pervez Rasheed’s recent claim, during a conference held to discuss Gaza, about Pakistan being the world’s sixth largest force to reckon with to a mere farce.
Revisiting the historical context of the phenomenon of (sham) brotherhood between the two Islamic states unravels the indifference dished out by Saudis towards Pakistanis in general.
During the petro-dollar era of the 70s, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto banked on the Saudis to pave the way to a new Islamic block. His shenanigans of playing the religion card to catapult himself as the new leader of the Muslim Ummah at the second OIC conference in Lahore was hailed by many myopic observers as a game changing move by the hitherto secular leader.
In the course of four decades, Pakistan has witnessed chickens coming home to roost; starting from the Saudis backed jihad in Afghanistan that engendered militancy in the country to the current discriminatory policies on part of their government against Pakistanis.
The jaw-dropping aid of $1.5 billion must not be misconstrued as a mere generosity of the oil rich state. In fact, it is a bait to pitch Pakistan in the epicentre of the conflict zone considering the footprints of Saudi Arabia in retailing the war in Syria recently.
The new edict that bars Saudi citizen to betroth a Pakistani lassie seems like a belated Eid greeting from the Saudi monarchy to Mian Nawaz Sharif, who visited the kingdom during the last 10 days of Ramazan but did not mutter a word on bilateral relationships or confidence building measure between the two Muslim countries.
I can vouch for it with full aplomb that had the law been passed by any non-Muslim country from the Western world, the uproar against the respective nation would have been significant in terms of maligning its laws, religion and cultural norms. The possibility of severing all ties with that particular country wouldn’t have been written off either; whereas big daddy went unscathed.
Obsessed with unconditional love for the Saudis, Pakistanis fail to realise that the regressive regime in Saudi Arabia has pigeon-holed women on a number of accounts. The prohibition of women drivers in Saudi is a strong case of discrimination against women by making them dependant on the male species.
Similarly, there was an uproar in the Saudi media after a female TV anchor became the first woman ever to read the news without a veil, which was against the Islamic norms of the country. In stark contrast, the new rule imposed against women of four nationalities is a glaring denial of Islamic teachings as Islam doesn’t restrict marriages within particular regions, tribes or states.
In the light of changing political kaleidoscope, Pakistanis shouldn’t pin high hopes with the Saudi royal family – they are busy grinding their own axe and safeguarding their personal interests ever since assuming power in 1932, when they changed the name of Hejaz and associate dominions to eponymous Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.