Choosing sides may hurt long term
Saudi kingdom and its Gulf allies have launched airstrikes which are likely to be followed by ground assault against Houthi fighters and army units in Yemen. The ongoing infighting in the country is a proxy war between the Saudi kingdom and Iran. The Saudi-Iran rivalry over establishing hegemony in the Gulf is in the long run bound to have consequences for the entire region.
There was speculation in Pakistan when Nawaz Sharif left for Saudi Arabia on an urgent call from the new monarch, leaving the country in the midst of a tense Senate election. The Saudi King had already met most of the Gulf rulers besides holding separate meetings with the Egyptian and Turkish presidents. There was a perception that the king wanted to enlist the support of all these countries against Iran and for jointly dealing with internal turmoil in the Gulf. The Saudi government has now involved a number of countries in its proxy war in Yemen. According to Saudi officials, ten Muslim countries have already joined hands with the kingdom.
There are disturbing reports in the international media regarding Pakistan being willing to participate in the Gulf-led military coalition and was also prepared to commit troops for a ground assault. FO spokesperson has confirmed Saudi request is being examined. Pakistan is already fighting an existential war. The operation in North Waziristan is yet to be concluded. The troops fighting in Tirah valley have suffered one of their heaviest casualties. After being defeated in FATA the TTP outfits are conducting attacks inside Pakistan while the COAS has vowed to hunt down terrorists in both the urban and rural areas. The army is also required to watch its eastern borders where exchange of fire along the LoC and working boundary has taken toll of several lives in recent month. Under the circumstances Pakistan must not allow itself to be sucked into what might turn out to be the Gulf quagmire. It must not burn its fingers in a fire ignited by others for their questionable ends.