Bahraini FM arrives amidst turmoil back home


ISLAMABAD – Amidst turmoil and mayhem back home, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa arrives here today (Monday) on a two-day visit to discuss his country’s current situation with top Pakistani leadership.
Bahrain, the Persian Gulf state has old friendly relations with Pakistan based on the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation. There are currently around 65 thousand Pakistanis living in Bahrain with scores of them part and parcel of Bahraini police and other security forces.
Bahrain’s foreign minister, who will meet the president, prime minister and military leaders here, is arriving at a time when media reports emanating from Persian Gulf suggest that his country’s ruling family is trying to shore up its security forces with more recruits from Pakistan, in a move that could risk further stoking nationalist and sectarian tensions in this state.
Bahrain has long relied on recruits from countries such as Pakistan, Jordan and Yemen to fill the ranks of their police forces. “As anti-government protests have flared in Bahrain, culminating in a violent crackdown last week, the monarchy has turned again to Pakistan military-linked foundations to find recruits for its security forces,” said a foreign media report.
Two Pakistani-born policemen and three other Pakistanis have been killed in Bahrain recent weeks and about 40 others injured, according to the Pakistani embassy in Bahrain. There are concerns that others in the 65,000-strong Pakistani community in Bahrain with most of them being guest workers doing jobs that have nothing to do with the police, such as construction, could be vulnerable.
However, a Pakistani official asking not to be named strongly belied the impression that Bahraini foreign minister’s visit is aimed at more recruitment from Pakistan for the country’s security forces to control and overcome the anti-government protests demonstrations.
He said, “No doubt that the foreign minister is coming at a critical time when his country is facing chaos and turmoil and he will discuss that situation with Pakistani leaders. However, that doesn’t imply that he will discuss the recruitment of Pakistanis for Bahrain’s security forces.”
Tehmina Janjua, the foreign office spokesperson said the danger to Pakistanis, many of whom had lived for years in Bahrain and become Bahraini citizens, was being overplayed by a section of media and the government had no plans to repatriate them. She said that the government had played no role in sending police recruits to Bahrain.