The visit from the King of Bahrain is yet another indication of Pakistan being knee-deep in the affairs of the Gulf States. No one is going to believe that $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia was just handed to us without any strings attached. No statements from the PM are going to change this, unless he is more forthcoming about what was actually promised, if not troops to fight the war in Syria. Nawaz Sharif’s comments also do nothing to explain the unprecedented visit of the King of Bahrain to the JSHQ. Safe to say, a military deal might be on the cards, but just what has been agreed remains unclear.

Maintaining our age-old alliance with Middle Eastern countries must not be prioritised over matters of internal security. At a time like this, with the uncertainty surrounding the question of terrorism in Pakistan, everything that is beyond our borders should take a backseat with the exception of trade of course. The government has failed to clarify exactly what is meant by “increased military cooperation” with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Involving the people would put all of our collective fears to rest, and would allow the opposition in Parliament to raise any arguments against the proposed agreement. That is how a democracy functions, after all.

The Pakistan Army is not an army-for-hire. Our country has enough concerns of its own, without looking for new ones far beyond our borders. Misguided advice based on self-interest should not prompt us into action in Syria, Bahrain or wherever else guns are needed. Be it weapons or personnel, Pakistan should abstain from involving itself in the active conflicts of the Middle-East for the sake of preserving the tenuous sectarian balance in this country. Pakistan is anything but united, and the divisiveness is also permeated in the deep-seated religious differences of the various sects. Sectarianism is the biggest bone of contention in the Middle East, and we find ourselves in the middle of the Saudi-Iran nexus, with the recent addition of Bahrain to the equation. History should teach us that getting mixed up in the affairs of other countries is only counter-productive to Pakistan’s interests. The example of Afghanistan is there for all to see, and the resultant inflow of militancy in our own country should encourage our leaders to think twice before involving us in somebody else’s war which we have no reason to fight. God knows we’ve got enough battles of our own.