Friday, March 25, 2011

Guns for hire: Pakistani soldiers in the Middle East

On March 20, it was reported that a 1,000 Pakistani troops had been recruited to serve in the Bahrain National Guards to put down the intifada there. This is not the first time Pakistani soldiers have come to the region to prop up the monarchies. During the Black September events in 1970 by Jordan's King Hussein to crush the Palestinians, the US-trained Zia ul-Haq (later Saudi-sponsored President of Pakistan) lead a group of mercenaries (see Tariq Ali, 'The Colour Khaki', New Left Review, Jan/Feb 2003,p.6)

Between 1983 and 1987, Pakistan deployed 20,000 troops to Saudi Arabia to protect the royal family. In 1991, 'following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, Pakistan dispatched roughly 6,000 soldiers to join the multi-national force defending the Saudis from any spillover of hostilities.' (see The East Moves West, Geoffrey Kemp, pg 106)

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