As the likelihood of entente between Iran and the West grows, Saudi Arabia is quietly preparing its relationship with Pakistan. The Iranian sphere of influence is growing and its arch enemy, Saudi Arabia has requested an infusion of Pakistani soldiers following Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Riyadh last week. So while Iran is now crawling with Shia militias, a Sunni arc is being prepared to counter.

Despite enormous defense spending, the Saudi military is unlikely to see sustained battle or gain combat experience anytime soon. Pakistan and Iran on the other hand are battle hardened. Saudis are notoriously unwilling, or maybe even unable, due to poor training and morale, to solely use their own forces to protect their country. They will borrow from us. God knows they have enough money for mercenary hordes.

Pakistan has long had a close relationship with Saudi Arabia and has been involved in protecting that country and the House of Saud. Pakistan has much friendlier relations with Iran than Saudi Arabia does, but is more dependent on Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, gave oil to Pakistan in 1998 to help Pakistan weather international sanctions against it for conducting a nuclear test and saved Nawaz Sharif after he was overthrown in a coup in 1999. We are bound to them. There are already Pakistani troops deployed in Saudi Arabia, though the number is said to be small. These facts are generally kept quiet to avoid undue attention, but analysts agree that there is definitely some sort of security commitment from Pakistan toward Saudi Arabia. In the past Pakistan has offered assistance, like in 1979, after the Iranian Revolution, and to help out during the Grand Mosque siege in Mecca. The security commitment may even include a nuclear dimension, though facts are blurry. But what else could help balance a nuclear Iran?

Saudi Arabia is getting increasingly jittery, but cannot go public about this. Counting on Pakistan is one way it can increase security and keep a low profile. Saudi economic and educational strategy has been aimed at increasing its leverage in Pakistan for years. There is no doubt that Pakistan will assist Saudi Arabia. Pakistanis most definitely do not want to get caught up in a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, especially when they have their own pressing regional and domestic issues to worry about. But if there is a call to arms, many will go running to the kingdom, as so many over the world have rushed to join ISIS.