Pakistan’s “Ummah” – Part 1

How do the numbers in Pakistan look?

So, there we have it folks.

The complete unvarnished truth.

No pussy footing.

No niceties.

No diplomatic BS.

No “we are all brothers”

No Shia Sunni.

Saudi gave perhaps one of the biggest up yours middle finger to Qatar and to this so called “Great Ummah!”

So before getting into this controversial minefield and quagmire of regional and global geopolitics, trying to understand why this happened and offer my perspective, which is Part 2, here’s an assessment of how the political and military leadership and the ordinary folks of Pakistan may perhaps be viewing this.

If we had to take sides with Saudi Arabia, not against Qatar, but their real enemy, Iran, or remain neutral in this conflict.

Here’s where I think our political and military leadership stands:

  • Nawaz would certainly be OK with siding with the Saudis, given the background of his relationship.

This notwithstanding the Zanataydar Zanatta (mother of all Thuppurrs as my good friend Pasha puts it) he received from his brotherly hosts, at the recently held Muslim Ummah Big Bash by The Trumpeter in Riyadh.

  • Most likely Gen. Bajwa will go along with Nawaz.

I say this because of the evidence one sees of his alignment with Nawaz even before he became Chief, then Dawn Leaks etc.

I hope I’m wrong and would love to be proven so.

Of mainstream political parties,

  • PTI, PPP, MQM, PSP, ANP and JI will advocate a neutral position.
  • JUI F and Fazlur Rehman will support Nawaz.
  • The Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (political proxy for defunct Sipah e Sahaba, Lashkar e Jhangvi, Lashkar e Jhangvi al Alami) will clearly support Saudi Arabia.
  • Not sure about JUI S. Sammy Sandwich may go with PTI and JI and opt for neutrality.

Of us the poor masses.

  • Army Officers, by and large would likely remain neutral. But. And a very dangerous mother of all Buts. There exists hyper partisan pro Saudi and anti-Saudi groups in the Army. Especially amongst the Troops.

So, this is potentially a very serious unsettling and dangerous landscape.

There could be serious repercussions if the Army is dragged into this struggle and ordered to side with Saudi Arabia in its battle against Iran.

I think it would, in any case, be a tough sell by Bajwa, who because of his perceived alignment with Nawaz, has lost considerable leverage amongst rank and file

For the rest of us “bloody civilians”!

While I don’t have hard core verifiable statistical data, but one can make a considered guesstimate based on our religious and sectarian groupings.

So here goes my best guessessment (an assessment based on best guesses)

  • Shias. 20% of Pakistani population. Likely neutral or support Iran.
  • Card carrying hard core Barelvi Sunnis. Likely neutral. About 30% of Sunnis in Pakistan.
  • Benign Barelvis. As above. About 10% of Sunnis. Neutral.
  • Traditional mainstream Deobandis, not converted to Saudi Wahhabism, such as JI. Approx. 15% of Sunnis. Likely neutral.
  • Hard core Sunni Deobandis, converted to Saudi Wahhabism, through petrodollar indoctrination, between 1977 and now. Strong advocates for Saudi. About 30% of Sunnis.
  • New Deobandis, recently converted to Saudi Wahhabism from Barelviism as a consequence of Saudi petrodollars evangelism and employment in the Gulf. Likely support Saudi. 10% of Sunnis.
  • Hard core Ahle Hadith (Hanbalis) country cousins of Wahhabis and Salafis. 5% of Sunnis. Strong Saudi supporters.

So, based on the not very scientific statistics above.

  • 55% Sunnis will likely want Pakistan to remain neutral.
  • 45% Sunnis in favor of Saudi.
  • 20 % Shias neutral or supportive of Iran.

Translating this into population, using a base of 200 Million means.

  • 40 million Shias against Saudi or Neutral.
  • Approximately 88 Million Sunnis neutral.
  • Total Neutral = 128 Million.
  • In Saudi’s favor = 72 Million.

64% Neutral.

36 % for Saudis.

That is, if the above statistics and assumptions are correct.

And based on my research and interviews with subject experts this seems to be a fair assessment with an error of (+/-10%)

So, we are trying to ride two horses and they’ve decided to go their separate ways.

Why the Middle Finger to Qatar?

Is this the start of the end of Monarchist Middle East? The widely predicted and anticipated authoritarian meltdown, as predicted by good friend Kamran Bokhari?

Will this result in military conflict between Shia Iran and Sunni Arabs sans Qatar?

Will Pakistan be drawn into this Vortex?

What is Trump’s game plan?

What will Russia and China do?

How will Daesh respond?

What happens in Syria and Iraq?

And the 64-million-dollar question.

What are Pakistan’s options?

And “Raheel Sharif ko Riha Karo” may also well be required!

Part 2 coming soon.

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Advisor & Senior Analyst at CommandEleven
Haider Mehdi is the current Convener of The Strategy Study Group, founded by the late Col. S.G.Mehdi M.C, former Group Commander of Pakistan Army's Special Services Group (SSG). Haider, is a former Pakistan Army officer, corporate leader, management consultant, business trainer and serial entrepreneur. Currently based in North America, with deep interest in South Asian, Middle Eastern and Regional geopolitics.
Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Related Analysis