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Syria’s Fallout Comes to Pakistan

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The careful whisper has definitely moved into mainstream and if not curtailed with transparency, the fallout can be immense. The ethic storm of Middle East has started moving into Pakistan, and there cannot be a worse scenario than what we have in hand right now. By logic, the strengthening rupee might have opened an economic debate but being in Pakistan the strings have been traced to ethnic divide, political maneuvers, and, above all, the dynamics of "Friendly Country". The case of $1.5 billion grant and its "conditionality" has pitched the political and religious parties against one another.

Syria has been an episode whose precedence is hard to find. The ideology, the much talked "Spring" of Arabian Peninsula has been tainted with conspiracies and foreign vendetta. Later, the issue saw titans clashing (US and Russia) on unprecedented diplomatic front, with Putin moving to ordinary Americans with his plea of West neutrality over the issue, but, to top it all, it severely tested the endurance of Arab alliance over Assad where fault lines like never before have emerged. Assad's all-out assistance by Hezbollah has already crippled the fragile détente in Lebanon while other neighbors are already feeling the strain. The steady turnaround of uprising from oppression to sectarian has proved catalyst in the bloodiest nature of the conflict.

The conduct of rebels or fighters engaged against Asad regime have changed the prospective of many actors sponsoring or at least sympathizing with them initially. Mainstream Western media has itself aired gruesome accounts of rebels conduct in war, including footages of fighters humiliating the dead corpses and the same is not ruled out of Assad's basket as well. The initial signs were evident when TTP, now engaged with GOP in a delicate peace process, claimed of sending hundreds of its devotees to Syria to fight against the regime. Pakistan's neutrality in a sensitive issue like Syria remains the key if it wants to avoid the sectarian catastrophe within its boundaries. Contrary to this will be naïve and in fact criminal as the country has already gone through its fair share of sectarian mayhem. In the past 2 decades, the trend has gained new roots with militant wings getting more organized and lethal. Target killing of renowned scholars of various sects across the country is now taking place on regular basis, reflecting limitation of Pakistan's security apparatus in tackling these groups, receiving handsome funding and expertise from the respective camps.

In fact, our policy makers and those making impact over it must understand that the nation is sitting on top of a volcano that requires a minimal jolt for eruption. A clear-cut policy on Syria and related fronts is needed to dispel this crisis at hand. The country in question, KSA, has undoubtedly assisted Pakistan in all crisis and we as a nation need to reckon this. Having said this, their interests in the region and elsewhere cannot be given precedence over our own national principles and interests. Similarly Tehran's behavior toward Pakistan has been highly questionable in the recent years, especially when it comes to our foreign policy and counter terrorism. The recent rhetoric of moving into Pakistan's territory in "hot pursuit" of kidnappers of its armed personnel is not only provoking but unacceptable as well. If one could recall, not long ago Tehran's prime target Riggi was captured in a raid that had all the footprints of collaboration from Pakistan's security services. Having said this, the reciprocity has yet to be seen especially when it comes to the militants in Baluchistan moving freely across the border.

The question in the end may not be of the suspected $ 1.5 billion and the strings attached to it, but more of how much our political forces have learnt from their failures in the past. Public rallies like the one in Noudero the other day is no forum to discuss or highlight issues of this sensitivity by PPP Chairperson Bilawal. In fact, a state policy for dealing with such issues need to be addressed on priority basis through consensus among all political forces in an APC prior to its reflection in state matters and action.      

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Holds a Masters Degree in International Relations. Been engaged with Development Sector from the past 5 years. Field of expertise and interest remain international political dimensions, current affairs, Pakistan affairs etc

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