Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Thursday, January 23, 2020 02:06:49 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Geopolitics Get Influenced For ME Conflict

By
14th-Jan-2020       
Share
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Save
  • E-mail
  • Print
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Muhammad Amir Rana :
The most significant strategic dimension of the Middle Eastern conflict is linked to the region's sectarian mire and its political manifestations, including violent ones. Though not a party to it, Pakistan feels the heat of the conflict, mainly in terms of how to adopt a neutral position to impede its sectarian consequences at home.
In a diverse and politically-charged religious landscape, it has always been a challenge for the country to maintain sectarian harmony during times of conflict in the Middle East. The fear of sectarian outburst limits Pakistan's strategic choices, thus cautioning it from taking outright sides. That is despite the fact that Pakistan has invested a lot in the Middle East in pursuit of its Muslim identity and in order to gain geostrategic, diplomatic and economic support from the region. Though it has gained some economic advantages out of this, it may come with a political cost.
The assassination of the Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani by the US military has once again put Pakistan to the challenge of holding a neutral position. For the moment, the country has successfully conveyed its message of upholding neutrality, but the challenge will become increasingly cumbersome if the ongoing US-Iran tension escalates into an all-out war.
The so-called Muslim world is not coherent in terms of social, cultural and intellectual trends - and rightly so - because it is diverse in all these terms, but is affected by political developments in the Middle East. In fact, a political change in the region alerts the Muslim-majority countries and societies to its likely impact in the forms of religious radicalism and sectarian divide. It also adds weight to the argument that extremism is a political phenomenon, which feeds on religious sentiments. It is ironic that Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Iran, have deepened their political influences in Muslim societies on sectarian lines and also support their proxies there. These proxies promote the interests of these states by exploiting the sectarian sentiments of the masses. They not only divide societies along narrow religious and sectarian lines, but also promote intolerance against religious minorities and cultivate conspiratorial mindsets.
For Pakistan, tensions in the Middle East become more crucial because of its geographical position and strong military credentials.
Iran remains suspicious that, in case of any significant conflict with the US or its allies in the Middle East, Pakistan may choose an opposite side. Iran has nurtured its influence in Pakistan not only on sectarian lines but also by capturing the energy market in Balochistan and adjacent districts of Sindh and south Punjab. Balochistan largely depends on illegal and legal oil supplies from Iran; several other products ranging from grocery to construction materials also come from Iran. The whole paraphernalia of the informal economy flourishes because of weak economic structures and governance. Recently, Iran has made some inroads into Pakistani Baloch separatist groups, which has increased its bargaining position to balance its political relations with Pakistan.
Iran is not the only country to use such tactics to create a political balance with Pakistan. Saudi Arabia and its close allies also use financial and economic incentives to win the country's political support. The only difference is the modus operandi; Iran cannot offer cash to Pakistan, which Pakistan's economy needs the most, but it has found alternative ways to gain economic and political leverage.
As far as proxies are concerned, Middle Eastern and South Asian states have mastered this strategy and nurtured their 'assets' on the basis of a strategic notion that proxies are the cheapest alternatives available to politically weak states. However, sectarian proxies are extremely lethal, and Pakistan has suffered a lot at the hands of such proxy wars fought by rival Middle Eastern states. Even in 2019, when overall terrorism-related incidents were on the decline, there were 14 sectarian-related attacks (some of them high impact) that took place.
Pakistan maintained its historically neutral posture when it decided not to send its troops to aid the Saudis in Yemen. Nevertheless, Pakistan has found other ways to support its Middle Eastern ally, mainly in military and political terms. Retired Gen Raheel Sharif's presence in Riyadh is an indication of Pakistan's strategic priority. Similarly, Prime Minister Imran Khan induced embarrassment in declining the invitation to attend the recent Kuala Lumpur summit - which he himself proposed - to please Riyadh.
Yet Pakistan cannot complicate its relationship with Iran by becoming party in a Middle Eastern conflict, mainly because of its geopolitical proximity with Iran and the fear of sectarian discord and violence. Some would argue that Pakistan's position vis-à-vis Iran and Saudi Arabia cannot be called an absolute neutral position. Yet, most hold that this posture of neutrality has significance in political and diplomatic terms.
Pakistan has its own geopolitical and economic challenges, with India-held Kashmir and Afghanistan being at the top. It is trying to gain the international community's political and diplomatic support through its renewed approach towards the Afghan reconciliation process, which is crucial for its economy as well as its stance on Kashmir. Interestingly, Pakistan failed to get full support from its Arab friends after India revoked the special status of held Kashmir. The Arabs, especially Saudi Arabia and UAE, showed a pragmatic approach, but they would always expect unconditional support from Pakistan whenever required.
Arguably, a financially stable Pakistan would have more freedom to prioritise its strategic interests. But the country also needs to prioritise dealing with its challenges of sectarian divisions, intolerance and extremism. It is imperative not only to improve social cohesion in the polity, but also to come out of the geopolitical trap of the Arabs and Iran. It will, however, require regulating financial flows of religious institutions in the country and adopting a zero-tolerance approach against groups that exploit sectarian sensitivities for the political purposes of 'others'.

(Muhammad Amir Rana, security analyst, writes for The Dawn)

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Govt faces hard time for needless expenditures coupled with corruption


THE Finance Ministry has asked all ministries and divisions not to seek additional fund in the current fiscal year in a signal that the government is tightening its belt amid a revenue shortfall, as per local media reports. The ministry furnished the instruction with regard to the operating and development ...

Entertainment »

Nadia to perform in MECA’s reunion


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Reunion of ex-cadets of Mirzapur Cadet College will be held from January 23 to 25 at the Cadet College in Tangail. Mirzapur Ex-Cadets Association (MECA) is organising the reunion programme. It will be MECA’s 13th arrangement of reunion. Popular TV actress, model and dance artiste Nadia Ahmed ...

Cricket »

Bangladesh Cricket (T20I) team off to Pakistan


Sports Reporter :Bangladesh National Cricket (T20I) team left the city on Wednesday night for Pakistan to play three Twenty20 International (T20I) cricket matches against their counterpart Pakistan in Lahore of Pakistan.Bangladesh will take on Pakistan in the first T20I on January 24, face Pakistan in second T20I on January 25 ...

International »

Russia gets new govt in what Putin calls ‘major renewal’


Reuters, Moscow :Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new government on Tuesday which he described as a break with the past, bringing in some fresh faces but retaining many senior ministers.The new government included a new economy minister and a new first deputy prime minister, but the finance, foreign, defence, ...

International »

Ousted Grammy CEO files explosive discrimination complaint


AFP, Los Angeles :The ousted chief of the organization behind the Grammys filed a complaint on Tuesday accusing the Recording Academy of putting her on leave after she raised concerns about sexual harassment, voting irregularites and other misconduct.Deborah Dugan says in her 44-page complaint before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ...

City »

Director General of Border Guard Bangladesh Major General Safinul Islam visited floating BOP at the water border area in Sundarbans on Wednesday.


Editorial »

Custodial death goes as worst kind of disregard for law


ABU BAKAR Siddique Babu was arrested around 8:00pm on Saturday by Tejgaon Industrial Police. Later he was found hanging from the iron bars of a lockup room of the same police station around 3:00am on Sunday. He was pronounced dead at Dhaka Medical College Hospital about an hour later. It ...

City »

Vice-Chancellor of BSMMU Prof. Kanak Kanti Barua, among others, at a prèss conference on 'Deceased Donor Organ Transplantation' organised by different organisations at the Jatiya Press Club on Tuesday.


Sports »

Brazilian legend Julio Cesar to arrive in Dhaka today


Former Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar will arrive in the city today (Wednesday) afternoon for a two-day visit as a FIFA ambassador for the ongoing Bangabandhu Gold Cup International Football Tournament.He is expected to land at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by Emirates Airways at 4.55 pm along with a FIFA ...

International »

Nothing done to fight climate change


AFP, Switzerland:Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday slammed global inaction on climate change in front of the world's top business leaders, as the annual Davos forum faced up to the perils of global warming while bracing for an address from US President Donald Trump.The 50th meeting of the World ...

Entertainment »

I am not fond of horror movies, but still wants to do one: Kriti Sanon


Kriti Sanon, who has worked in genres across drama, romance, comedy and historical, says she wants to explore herself as an actor."Everybody likes different kind of films here (in the country). If I want to cater to all kinds of audience and also explore myself as an actor in different ...

Entertainment »

Fatima Sana Shaikh's latest story from the sets of ‘Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari’


Fatima Sana Shaikh has a busy 2020 with three releases back and back. The actress will be seen in three different avatars for her films and the fans are excited to see the actress in various characters. Fatima has been sharing fun BTS snippets of the movies on her Instagram ...

Football »

Ronaldo double pulls Juventus clear as Inter stalled in Lecce


AFP, Milan :Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 to pull four points clear of Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday.Inter's title push hit another stumbling block after a 1-1 draw at lowly Lecce while Ante Rebic fired city rivals AC Milan ...

International »

Abe strikes conciliatory note on S.Korea, row may be easing


Reuters, Tokyo :Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that South Korea was its "most important neighbour" and that the two shared basic values, taking a conciliatory tone towards the country that has been locked in a bitter row with Tokyo for over a year.The comment comes after South ...

City »

Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha formed a human chain in front of the National Museum in the city's Shahbagh on Monday urging all to be united to make South Asia fair.


 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news