There has to be a difference between shrouding a policy in secrecy for the sake of safeguarding national-interest and downright patronizing a public about its government’s ongoing deals in proxy war. Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz took issue with the growing number of ‘rumors’ regarding Pakistan’s policy on Syria. He insisted that the government maintained a neutral line on the entire ordeal, and that the word on the grapevine involving $1.5 billion aid from Saudi Arabia was received only because it was “direly needed by the country.”

Which is valid, but only if you want to look at half of the picture. The other half details selling weapons as well as warplanes to Saudi Arabia which intends to deploy them in Syria to tackle opposition forces, and this is where it isn’t so, much to Mr. Aziz’s chagrin, neutral anymore. In a way, Saudi played its cards in the right place: Using Pakistan to counter its arch-rival Iran is aptly-timed given how Pakistan cannot enforce an official agreement as to where the arms end up – it has no leverage on the royals. In this case, we know where the arms are already headed to.

But what does this deal spell for Pakistan? As the common adage goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch in bilateral diplomacy: The Saudi aid pooling into Pakistan and the Pakistani arms being handed to the Saudis occurs at a heavy price. For us, it carries the potential to exacerbate sectarian violence in a land replete with Sunni-Shia bloodied antagonism. Furthermore, it only reinforces Pakistan as a battleground for Iran and Saudi to act out their sectarian proxy war. Only last year, 687 sectarian killings took place in Pakistan and with how incautious our supposedly ‘neutral’ foreign policy is, the number would grow by leaps and bounds.