This New Year wasn’t good beginning in Middle East. A wrong political move of executing Shiite cleric Nimr al Nimr by Saudi Kingdom has threatened regional peace. Sheikh Nimr al Nimr was executed (on 2nd January 2016) along with forty six other prisoners on terrorism charges. This Shiite cleric was vocal against Saudi government and was actively participating in mass anti-government protests. He was arrested in October 2014. Iran had warned KSA that Saudi Kingdom would face consequences on execution of Sheikh Nimr al Nimr.
The first set back to peace in Middle East is that tensions between Iran and Saudia Arabia have increased. Protesters in Iran have burnt Saudi Embassy in Tehran. Sunni states of Middle East like Qatar, Bahrain etc are backing Saudia Arabia and have cut off their ties with Iran. Bahrain, Sudan cut all ties while UAE downgrades relations with Iran. China is ‘highly concerned’ with developments; while US and Germany has called for restraint and Russia has offered to play mediator role.
The region is already suffering due to wars in Yemen and Syria. There are chances of Shia-Sunni conflict among the Muslim countries and it will impact on Pakistan as well.
Pakistan is badly affected by sectarian violence. The sectarian groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Islam, ashkar-e-Taiba might become active after this issue. Sectarian violence might break in Pakistan. In order to avoid sectarian bloodshed, Pakistan must refrain to take any side to Saudi-Iran conflict.
Pakistan is multi-ethnic country and around 40 million of its population is of Shia community. There is need to be united as country rather being getting divided on Saudi-Iran issue. Pakistan should take refraining stance on this matter like it made when Pakistan was asked by Saudia Arabia to send its troops to Iran.
The religious scholars of both Shia and Sunni sects should refrain from any statement that might ignite violence in the country. These scholars should spread message of UNITY so that Pakistan won’t face any security issues due to upraising Iran and Saudi tussle.