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31 May 2023

'Pakistan is not the ideal ally'

By Sami Al Reyami

The Gulf states have not asked Pakistan to send “mercenary” forces to join operation ‘Decisive Storm’. The GCC realises that the Pakistani Army is not for hire, as some Pakistani political forces believe.

So the Gulf countries have not asked Pakistan for an army or troops to take part in their fight against Houthis. Instead, the GCC wanted only political support from Islamabad to the alliance against the Iranian threat coming from the Yemeni gate.

A symbolic participation from Pakistan is enough, even with an ambulance raising the Pakistani flag.

‘Decisive Storm’ tends to be a real test for the real friendship with Pakistan.

It is also an indicator of how far it can be trusted as a strategic ally of the Gulf States.

However, it seems that the GCC wasn’t lucky enough to place trust in this country as a maintainer of regional balance.

The Gulf states invested heavily in strengthening links and relationship with Pakistan, since its independence. Various political, economic and aid support was offered to this country.

The doors remain open to businessmen and labour and skilled people, who arrive in huge numbers to the GCC; which tolerates the burden of such numbers.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), in specific, has supported Pakistan in all circumstances and has always stood by its side in catastrophic and non-catastrophic cases.

The UAE has always become a safe refuge to all Pakistani politicians and businessmen in times of political unrest that usually hit Pakistan.

The Emirates is always recognised unanimously by Pakistani political  forces as non-aligned to any party in political conflicts in Pakistan.

For that reason, the relationship between the two countries is special despite the changes in the political leadership and majority party through time.

All that was done at no price.

It is done instead as an investment to strengthening relationship and links to build a valuable strategic ally that helps in times of need.

Unfortunately, this investment is damaged as a result of the Pakistani parliament vote, which vetoed Pakistan joining the ‘Decisive Storm’ alliance.

The officials’ statements were contradictory, Islamabad’s  position was unexpected and shocking. Although we recognise the importance of the Pakistani parliament and its freedom to speak out, Pakistan should take the side of the GCC when it comes to the choice between Iran and the GCC.

Unfortunately this didn’t happen.

Not only did the Pakistani parliament not appraise and appreciate the GCC, the government, too, tried in different ways to avoid participation, and that trend became clear when it referred the matter to the parliament.

Even the public opinion and “noisy” reactions of writers and different categories of people as regards ‘Decisive Storm’ and the Gulf position was in the same direction.

All these factors indicate that betting on this country as a strategic ally in the future should be strongly revised.

For us, as Gulf citizens, ‘Decisive Storm’ is not a picnic to which friends are invited to enjoy time with us.

It’s a battle to protect our security and stability and the decision to start the war was not taken until the Iranian threat became clear at the borders of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the intent is to engulf the Arabian Peninsula.

In addition to the threat it poses to a strategic strait of (Bab Al Mandab)‏ - the control of such a path would strangle the Gulf.

Henceforth, seeking the help of friends and allies has become a political necessity in order to call up international efforts. In this case this is more important than the field support.

Exactly as it happened in the Afghanistan, Somalia and the Balkans.

As it failed to appreciate the relationship with Gulf States, Pakistan didn’t understand this issue and abandoned them.

For this reason and without emotional reactions, the Gulf States have to re-evaluate their strategic relationship with Pakistan, in the long term, because it absolutely cannot be our trusted strategic ally.

Sami Al Reyami is Editor-in-Chief of 'Emarat Al Youm'