Capital suggestion Dr Farrukh Saleem Sunday, April 03, 2011

To begin with, a brief timeline of events: February 4: A few hundred Bahrainis assemble in front of the Egyptian embassy on al Shooum Street in Manama to show their support with pro-democracy demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square.

February 11: His Majesty the King, whose family has ruled Bahrain for 228 years, announces a cash grant of Dinar 1,000 (Rs225,000) for every Bahraini family.

February 14: Bahrainis declare a ‘Day of Rage’ during which the security forces kill an unarmed protestor.

February 17: Security forces conduct a deadly pre-dawn raid. Riot police kill four demonstrators, including a two-year old girl; 231 sustain injuries.

February 20: Teachers, lawyers and engineers join the protestors.

February 25: The Shia Ulema Council calls for a big rally after Friday prayers.

February 25: Admiral Mullen, the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets the King and reiterates full backing.

February 25: Bahrain National Guards (BNG) place advertisements in Pakistani newspapers for the recruitment of retired infantry major and military police.

March 1: Another advertisement appears for the recruitment of anti-riot instructors and ex-army drill instructors.

March 3: Sunni and Shia youngsters clash in Hamad Town, seven miles southwest of Manama.

March 6: Bahraini protestors demand PM Khalifa ibn Salman’s resignation (the PM is the King’s uncle and is the longest serving unelected PM in the world).

March 7: The BNG recruitment delegation arrives in Pakistan.

March 8: Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Bin Abdullah, Commander Royal Saudi Land Forces, arrives in Islamabad.

March 10: Saudi police open fire on unarmed protestors in the eastern city of Qatif.

March 10: Sectarian clashes erupt in Bahrain between naturalised Sunni families who support the government and Shias who do not.

March 14: Peninsula Shield Force, with 2,000 Saudi and 500 UAE troops in 150 armoured vehicles along with combat support elements, enters Bahrain.

March 15: The King of Bahrain declares Martial Law.

March 15: Bahraini protestors attack Pakistani residences. Four Pakistanis, including two policemen of Pakistani descent, are killed.

March 15: Shia protestors in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, rally in support of Bahraini demonstrators.

March 16: A deadly crackdown begins around the Pearl Roundabout.

March 25: Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the hardliner Secretary-General of Saudi Arabia’s National Security Council, arrives in Islamabad (purportedly to elicit a commitment for a division or two).

March 31: Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission warns against “Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Bahrain” and calls on “Riyadh to leave the Persian Gulf state.”

April 1: According to Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the US is advising TV stations not to report on Bahrain.

Conclusions: Arab monarchs are at war. Their own people are rising against them. The kings are hiring our retired infantry majors as lieutenants for Rs 130,000 a month to suppress the uprising. The kings are hiring our anti-riot instructors for Rs 80,000 a month. More than 11,000 pro-democracy Muslim protestors have already been killed by Muslim leaders in Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Oman, Syria, Tunisia and Algeria.

Questions: Should we be getting involved in suppressing pro-democracy uprisings? Whose side are we on – the protestors or their kings. Are we on the side of change or with the defenders of status quo?

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: farrukh

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