By Vanetsov Georgy
Islamabad is prepared to consider the idea of setting up a new military block of Islamic countries. Deputy chairman of the Senate of Pakistan Mir Jan Jamali made this announcement during his visit in Baku, Azerbaijan.
According to Jamali, the West has a double standards approach to global issues and does not make sufficient effort to resolve the situation in Nagorno Karabakh, Bosnia or Kashmir. «Among the Muslim countries there are quite a few that are strong from military and political point of view, and uniting those states in one block would be conducive to resolving our problems», said deputy chairman of the Pakistani Senate. Jamali stated that «in the area of military cooperation Pakistan has excellent ties with Turkey, and such ties can be developed with Azerbaijan». He already offered Azerbaijan assistance in the form of arms supply and stressed that Pakistan is a nuclear state.
Such statements sound quite unexpected. The Muslim world is very diverse and is hardly ready for a union within one military block. A major difference exists between Pakistan and Azerbaijan, states Azhdar Kurtov, an expert with the Institute of Strategic Studies:
«They are different in terms of history and demographic potential. Pakistan is a country with a population that is larger than that of Russia. Azerbaijan is one of the small post-Soviet republics. There is a difference in the religious composition of the population. Pakistan is a primarily Sunni state, while in Azerbaijan; to the contrary, two thirds of the population are Shiite. Without doubt, it will affect the probability of a productive cooperation in the military sphere. The statement made by the Pakistani politician is most likely just a show for the public».
On the other hand, one must not forget that there was a period in Pakistani history when Islamabad stuck to the pan-Islamic ideas and even took upon itself the mission of «complete and final islamization» of a huge region from Turkey to China. In that respect the statement made by Benazir Bhutto made in the early years of her political career is quite demonstrative. «On the whole territory of Islamic states there are only two obstacles that prevent the Islamic world from merging and grouping together – it is Armenia and Georgia». During her term as Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto together with Prime Minister of Turkey Tansu Ciller made a well-publicized visit to Sarajevo in order to support the Bosnian Muslims in the besieged town.
Does the statement made by the deputy chairman of the Pakistani Senate signal that radical pan-Islamic ambitions are growing in Pakistan once again? Mir Jan Jamali’s statement falls within the general trend of Pakistani politics directed at recruiting new allies in the situation of a sharp deterioration of its relations with the US. During the last years Pakistan bet on the alliance with China. But it appears that China’s support is not sufficient for Islamabad. Its proclaimed readiness to set up a military block of Muslim states is a signal that Washington would be forced to notice.