Throughout the 1980s, when Pakistan was flooded by jihadis, criminals from Arabia, Maghreb Africa and elsewhere, arms from the West and money from Arabia flooded Pakistan.
This is because the terrorist-fundamentalist projects nurtured by the Saudi-funded orthodox Sunni Pakistani military officers to “bleed” India and to wage sectarian war against the minority Shias, though ostensibly conducted to gain a tactical advantage in dealing with India and the region, have “blown back” on Pakistan itself in the form, among other things, of further Islamisation of the military and the creation of what is virtually a state of civil war within the country.
The Direct Saudi Role
Under the watchful eyes of both Britain and the United States, the Saudi-Pakistan transactional relationship goes back more than four decades. From the outset, the transactional part of the relationship revolved around Pakistan providing physical security to the Saudi royal household and the Emirates and, in return, oil-rich Riyadh supplying Pakistan with cash and cheaper oil. Later, the Saudis extended their part of the deal by financing new mosques and thousands of madrassas in Pakistan, where the Saudi Arabia’s national religion, Wahhabism, was spread.
By supporting this Saudi-Pakistan arrangement, both Britain and the United States were serving their own geopolitical interests. To begin with, both Britain and the United States maintained a strong form of hostility toward Shia Iran. Other than Saudi Arabia, no other nation was as appreciative of the Western nations’ animosity to Muslim Iran. Also, both Britain and the United States, among other Western nations, were hell-bent on dismantling the “Godless” Soviet Union. This obsession was exploited to the hilt by the Islamic nations, particularly Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Abul Hasaan points out, the Pakistani army and air force personnel had also trained Saudi forces in the 1970s and the 1980s.
The enormous international diplomatic boost that both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan enjoyed in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was an indicator of the Saudi-Pakistan transactional relationship. Throughout the 1980s, when Pakistan was flooded by jihadis, criminals from Arabia, Maghreb Africa and elsewhere, arms from the West and money from Arabia flooded Pakistan. It was also the decade when professional Pakistani military officers began close working relations with the criminals and jihadis battling the Soviets to achieve what the Western countries, and some of the Islamic nations, wanted.
In an article “Wahabization-Salafization of Pakistan and the Muslim World,” posted on www.islamicsupremecounci.com on 23 October 2009, Abul Hasaan, gives a clear picture of the steady growth of the Salafis in Pakistan. Beginning in the early 1970s, a large number of Pakistanis started going to Saudi Arabia as contract labourers. However, during the reign of General Zia ul-Haq, Salafism/Wahhabism started penetrating the armed forces of Pakistan. At that time, the Afghan jihad had begun. With the American weapons and Saudi petrodollars, the Salafi/Wahhabi ideology indoctrinated the minds of hundreds of Muslims, Hasaan says.
“¦during the reign of General Zia ul-Haq, Salafism/Wahhabism started penetrating the armed forces of Pakistan. At that time, the Afghan jihad had begun.
There is a long history of security relations between Pakistan and several Arab countries. For instance, in 1969, a Pakistani military training mission was sent to Jordan to assess the state of Jordanian forces in the aftermath of their 1967 defeat in the war against Israel and train them. Pakistani military officers from different departments (e.g., infantry, armour and artillery) of the army and air force were part of this mission. While the Pakistani officers were training their Jordanian counterparts, simmering tensions between Jordanians and Palestinians broke open. This resulted in a September 1970 showdown when King Hussain ordered Jordanian forces to stop the Jordan-based Palestinians from overthrowing the Hashemite kingdom. There were reports circulated by Palestinian sympathisers indicating that Pakistani troops had helped Jordanian forces to quell that uprising.
At about the same time, a number of Pakistan army and air force personnel were deputed to several countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. A much smaller number of naval officers also served in the UAE, training local naval forces. The main role of the Pakistani officers was in training local security forces, although they also manned complicated equipment such as radars.
Beyond the security cooperation, Hasaan provides a picture of the growing impact of Saudi money in changing the religious/social face of Pakistan.
As Abul Hasaan points out, the Pakistani army and air force personnel had also trained Saudi forces in the 1970s and the 1980s. “The Iran-Iraq war changed the Saudi security environment, and both countries started to negotiate about limited Pakistani troop deployment. After prolonged negotiations, it was agreed to deploy a limited Pakistani contingent on Saudi soil. The delay in negotiations was partly due to differences among Saudi decision makers. Debate among Saudis was on the issues of a larger foreign contingent (about two-division strength), expansion of the Saudi army, and the balance between the army and the Saudi Arabian National Guards (SANG). Finally, a negotiated middle ground agreed on a much smaller foreign contingent that consisted of only a reinforced brigade-strength,” reports Hasaan.