Pakistan has been recently too outspoken on its support for Islamists. Recently, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Islamabad has been under pressure from the USA and one other country to normalise relations with Israel and while he did not name the other country, the signalling was obvious. Now, the latest actions from the UAE of arresting pro-Palestinian Pakistani activists and many other instances force us to connect the dots and make sense out of it.
As per media reports, Imran Khan has been critical of UAE’s normalisation of relations with Israel, that is, since the signing of Abraham Accords. Abu Dhabi is also likely nudging Islamabad to follow suit, and the nudging has moved away from plain threats to substantial actions. From discussing with Pakistan behind closed doors, Abu Dhabi has moved substantially towards taking solid action to display the severity of repercussions.
Earlier there were hectic diplomatic parleys from Islamabad with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where it requested a rollover of outstanding loans worth approx $4 billion. It came just months after Saudi Arabia had forced Pakistan to pay back a loan of a $1 billion before the deadline, in a diplomatic spat. Other than this, there has been a surge in the arrest of people from Pakistani diaspora, sometimes for minor offences in the UAE. As per an HT report, around 5000 Pakistani inmates are housed alone in Al Sweihan Jail in Abu Dhabi. It is also being speculated that UAE may impose tighter visa norms for Pakistani citizen who wish to look for employment opportunities in Emirates, with reports of Pakistani nationals finding it difficult to renew residential permits.
Since the signing of the Abraham Accords among UAE-Bahrain-Israel, Pakistan is seemingly becoming further separated from its masters in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Islamabad earlier made failed attempt to bypass the Organisation of Islamic Nations (OIC) by calling a meeting of like-minded Islamic countries to discuss Kashmir, only to find support from Turkey and was faced with immense backlash from Arabian countries.
These tough actions against Pakistan which seem to continue will increase in intensity. However, Imran Khan has his hands tied. His government is in a lose-lose situation, as he cannot accept the normalisation without suffering consequences at home and if he listens to the extremists and fundamentalists, then he will lose support from its economic life-line, that is, his Arabian frenemies.
Pakistan’s ruling dispensation does not have the de-facto control of the country, and the Army (de-facto rulers) depend on pandering the extremists to maintain their control. Thus, any action by Imran Khan to normalise relations with Israel and get in the good books of USA-Saudi-UAE combine will lead to his dethronement and can even put him in grave risk, however, pandering to the fundamentalists will make sure the loss of old friends for real, making it easier for China to transform Pakistan into its colony, in everything but name.
Thus, it seems Imran Khan can do nothing but sit steady, clutching to his chair tightly, as long as he can and let the UAE and Saudis take stricter actions on it as well as letting fundamentalists keep the country hostage to the gloom of medieval atrocities while the country heads into a downward spiral of becoming a failed state.