The parliament’s resolution on the Yemen crisis has not been received kindly by the GCC coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which was counting on Pakistan to take a clear position in their favour and commit troops for operations inside Yemen. Their disregard of the collective decision of the peoples’ representatives should not surprise considering that they are not used to dealing with a Pakistan that takes such key decisions in a democratic manner. In the past, the country has acted much like those demanding its unequivocal support: decisions made behind closed doors with complete disregard for the peoples’ wishes and damaging implications.

However, as a country that remains highly dependent on the Gulf for aid and employment without ever feeling the need to implement structural reforms, which would enable it to stand on its feet, breaking away from poor tradition is easier said than done. And when stakes are this high, some might say impossible unless the country is willing to pay the price, which UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash warned about on Twitter, in a shockingly poor display of diplomacy. Mr Gargash’s outburst might be unwarranted and condemnable, but it does carry a lesson for Pakistan. Despite its enviable fighting force and an arsenal of nuclear bombs, a UAE minister doesn’t shy away from threatening it over social media. This ought to put things in perspective as far as Pakistan’s might is concerned. It also makes it clear that the ‘request’ is actually a demand loaded with ultimatums. So, how should Pakistan respond?

Often, countries find themselves in a position where they have two choices before them and each carries pros and cons. Whether Pakistan joins the KSA-led campaign in Yemen or not, there is a price to be paid. It is difficult to see how the political and military leadership will be able to resist ever-increasing pressure from the GCC. Already, there is a noticeable shift in Pakistan’s stance following the strong response to its parliament’s resolution, which defined the country’s role as neutral player seeking ceasefire and peace in Yemen through diplomatic channels. In his policy statement on Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif criticized the Houthis and reiterated support for KSA and allies. While the PM managed to refrain from promising deployment of troops in line with Saudi Arabia’s demand, he has had to compromise on the position of neutrality. Some believe that it is only a matter of time before the government and the military agree to what is being asked of them. It would be unfortunate.