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Lascars In Manama

For long, Saudi Arabia has been one of the two foreign hands (the other is the US) rocking the cradle of Pakistani politics, brokering truce among warring leaders, providing asylum to those exiled, and lavishing funds on a state strapped for cash. But the explosion of democratic sentiment in West Asia is bringing about a role reversal???it???s Pakistan???s assistance the Arab royal families have now sought to quell their rebellions, rekindling memories of 1969, when Pakistani air force personnel flew Saudi fighter planes to ward off an invasion from South Yemen.From all accounts, Pakistan seems eager to become the bulwark of the royal families against the popular rage on Arab streets. It is said to have kept at standby two army divisions for deployment in Saudi Arabia, should the simmering discontent there spill over. Islamabad is also hiring ex-army personnel to bolster the Bahrain National Guard (BNG), which has been cracking down on pro-democracy protests in the kingdom neighbouring Saudi Arabia.Pakistan turned its gaze towards West Asia following the visits of, first, Saudi prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and then Bahrain???s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa in March-end. Though pro-democracy sentiments haven???t gathered a critical mass in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is worried that the popular upsurge in Bahrain, a predominantly Shia country over which Sunni kings rule, could well, with time, permeate across the border. Sources say the Americans have endorsed Riyadh???s decision to seek Islamabad???s assistance. In return, the Saudi prince offered support to resuscitate the Pakistan economy and meet its energy demands. Renowned analyst Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi, however, doesn???t think Pakistan would commit its regular forces to a country other than Saudi Arabia. ???Even in this case, the condition would be that Pakistani troops would perform their assigned duties only within Saudi Arabia.???Protesting recruitment in IslamabadBut deployment of regul



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