Of the three chief sources of security problems, Pakistan has recently been quite vocal about the foreign-funded sectarianism. According to interior ministry sources, 147 seminaries/madrassas in Punjab, 95 in Gilgit Baltistan, 30 in Baluchistan, and 12 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one in Sindh are getting the funding. The funding and other support is being provided by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey and Iraq. In Punjab, 122 schools are Saudi-backed and 25 get Iranian funding. Saudi money funds most madrassas in Baluchistan and Peshawar while Iranian money funds most in Gilgit Baltistan in the north.
As is evident, most of the funding, about 75% to 80%, comes from “Sunni Arab” Gulf countries. It is due mainly to the fact that Pakistan itself is predominantly a “Sunni” majority country. And, it is perhaps for this very reason that Pakistan has to maintain a very calculated distance from Saudi Arabia.
While Pakistan continues to repeatedly invoke the ‘Muslim Ummah’ mantra for public consumption, crude geo-political calculations rather than religious concerns are actually shaping broader contours of its foreign policy. Pakistan’s imperceptible distance from Saudi Arabia is not an isolated event (read: last year, Russia replaced Saudi Arabia as the biggest exporter of oil to China); it is deeply rooted in the ‘territorialization’ of Pakistan’s foreign policy, being shaped as it is by larger geo-economic factors as well as the formation of new alliances.
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