Iran warns Pakistan on mercs in Bahrain
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Behrouz Kamalvandi has summoned the Pakistani charge d’affairs in Tehran to Iran’s Foreign Ministry to convey Iran’s serious reservations about Pakistan’s recruitment of retired military officials for the Bahraini army to help with the crackdown of Bahraini protesters demanding their democratic rights, Pakistani media reported.
The Iranian official warned that if the recruitment continues, it will have serious ramifications for diplomatic relations between Islamabad and Tehran.
However, the decision-makers in Islamabad have ignored the Iranian warning as the recruitment persists.
A foundation affiliated to the Pakistani army is recruiting retired military personnel from the Pakistan Army, Navy and the Air Force who will be deployed in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain at exorbitant salaries.
According to sources in the foundation, almost 90 percent of the recruited officials are being sent to crisis-hit Bahrain.
Over 1,000 Pakistanis have so far been recruited in March 2011 alone, while 1,500 more would be hired in the next few weeks, reports say.
People in Bahrain have been holding anti-government protests since February 14, demanding constitutional reforms as well as an end to the al-Khalifa monarchy.
Demonstrators maintain that they will continue the protests, until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy, and a proportional voice in the government are met.
The peaceful popular movement in Bahrain has been violently repressed since mid-February, leaving scores of protesters killed and many others missing.