Wednesday, October 3, 2007

WASHINGTON DIARY: The powers that be

by Dr Manzur from The Daily Times

The exile of Nawaz Sharif is not the first and the only occasion when Saudis have meddled in Pakistani politics. Saudi Arabia contributed towards the destabilisation of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto by financially supporting Jamaat-e-Islami and other religious outfits. At one point Bhutto came out openly against Saudi intervention when Saudis donated a large amount to Jamaat-e-Islami. Saudi intervention in Pakistani affairs increased over time. During Zia-ul Haq’s period it pumped huge amounts of money into Afghan jihad and Pakistani religious madrassas. By aggressively interjecting Wahabi Islam into Pakistan, Saudis have aided the communalisation of Pakistani society; sectarian violence has been closely associated with Saudi supported madrassas. Other than madrassas, Saudis have been very loyal to the Pakistani military. As a matter of fact, it plays a proxy role when the US does not want to be seen as intervening directly. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s role in Pakistani politics has to be examined very closely.

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