Almost 100,000 Rohingya Muslims spent their Eid fleeing ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, most of the discourse among the concerned onlookers has surrounded Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and whether or not she deserved her Nobel Peace Prize.

Perhaps that discussion can be had once there is an halt to the mass murders and ethnic cleansing being orchestrated by radical Buddhists? Maybe the more pertinent question is regarding a long-term solution for the age-old crisis being sought?

What is even more important – for many of us – than innocent lives being destroyed in numbers is the fact that innocent Muslim lives are being lost in numbers. And so many flagbearers of Muslim Ummah are paradoxically questioning the existence over such Pan-Islamic unity, by wondering out loud why no one’s stepping up for the Rohingya Muslims.

Considering that the much touted and advertised over 40-state ‘Islamic’ military coalition has only recently been inaugurated, one can’t help but wonder what purpose does it serve if forestalling the genocide of Muslims is not on its priority list.

This Islamic military coalition is headed by Saudi Arabia, the kingdom which has successfully managed to sell itself as being synonymous with Islam itself, and is military spearheaded by Pakistan, a state who has stuck to Pan-Islamist policymaking to a point where even damaging the ground realities in Afghanistan and Kashmir haven’t forced a rethink.

So what are these two leaders of Muslim Ummah doing to address the Rohingya plight?

The officials of the Kingdom of al-Saud generously enough took time out over a week after violence had resurfaced in Myanmar to tweet out “#Saudi_Arabia will continue its efforts to find a lasting solution to the plight of the Rohingya Muslims” through the ‘KSA Mission UN’ Twitter handle.

The only “efforts” originating in the Saudi kingdom related to the issue at hand are through Riyadh sponsored jihadism, which has penetrated Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). And just like other hubs of violence against Muslims like Kashmir and Palestine, resistance has metamorphosed into jihadism spearheaded by the ARSA.

At a time when diplomatic pressure on the Myanmar government could’ve been openly initiated by the Muslim bloc at the UN, led by the OIC, what we have instead is the age old covert jihadist support to further dent the struggle of the Rohingyas.

Pakistan, meanwhile – that has somehow found time to spare from its own perpetual war against jihadism at home to perform gatekeeping duties for al-Saud family, and believes that despite strained ties with all bordering countries barring one, it can mediate between Riyadh and Tehran – has also been issuing meaningless statements in doing its bit for the Rohingyas.

“Such reports, if confirmed, are a source of serious concern and anguish on the eve of Eidul Azha,” the statement released by the Pakistani Foreign Office on September 3 said, citing the deaths and displacements in Myanmar.

So almost ten days after the latest spate in violence in Myanmar, Islamabad still needed “confirmation” on whether or not there’s actual mass murder going on?

Were the global news agencies and their constant reporting of developments not credible enough?

Or is Pakistan dillydallying because there is some other issue?

Now that concern could be that with jihadist support in Kashmir and Afghanistan, along with the duties for Kingdom of al-Saud, all the while fighting – or at least pretending to do so – militancy at home as well, Pakistan truly has its hands full, and then some.

Logistics can’t be a problem, since Islamabad is quite familiar with supporting radical Islamist militants around the Bay of Bengal, and a gap of a few decades shouldn’t really be a hurdle, since those very years have provided more cognizance vis-à-vis Islamist militancy.

Perhaps the reason isn’t any dearth of jihadism – historically, the one-way ticket to solve all of Islamabad’s problems – but the Chinese-Pakistani JF-17/FC-1 multirole combat aircraft that have been manufactured for Myanmar Air Force?

Pakistan has been kind enough to first induct the JF-17 Thunders in four combat squadrons, and has demonstrated how they function in test runs under trained fighter pilots, which has bolstered their market.

Any consideration for the Rohingyas on even Islamist – let along humanitarian – grounds would dent the aforementioned market by spoiling the first export order for the Thunders.

Furthermore, while Pakistan wouldn’t have wanted to risk such an agreement had it been the sole beneficiary, with the principal vender being Beijing, Islamabad can ill-afford the mirage of Muslim Ummah getting in the way of anything and everything related to CPEC.

That’s why the Uighur Muslims, and the East Turkestan separatist movement, don’t quite fall under the Pan-Islamist rulebook designed by Pakistan for South Asia and Middle East.

So let’s not hold our breath on ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Southeast Asia getting in the way of Sino-Pak neoliberal cooperation. This is especially true since there is no tangible benchmark for Muslim unity for anyone to live up to either.


The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.