Islamabad | Pakistan has not decided to offer military support to a Saudi-led coalition battling Shia rebels in Yemen, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said today while pledging to safeguard the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. We have made no decision to participate in this war. We didn’t make any promise.
We have not promised any military support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Asif said. We will not take part in any conflict that could result in differences in the Muslim world, causing fault-lines present in Pakistan to be disturbed, the aggravation of which will have to be borne by Pakistan, he said. Asif said that Pakistan will play the role of a facilitator to end the conflicts in the Muslim world.
He said Pakistan would avoid aggravating the situation by participating in it and the efforts are being made to prevent the war through joint efforts. Pakistan is ready to adopt whatever role is needed in order to facilitate the termination of conflicts in the Islamic world, he said. He said a delegation visit to Saudi Arabia to assess the security needs of that country had been postponed due to a meeting of the Arab League.
He also said Pakistan would be happy if the issues are resolved at the regional level. We want this issue to be resolved in a common forum where the Muslim world or Arab League is involved, said the defence minister. The need of the hour is alliance and solidarity, not division, Asif said.
Asif repeatedly said in the parliament that Pakistan was committed to the integrity of the Saudi Arabia. I reiterate that if the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia is threatened then Pakistan will defend it, he said. He said parliament will be taken onboard on any decision to send troops. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday chaired a meeting after Saudi crown prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz asked him to provide military assistance.
The government in a statement after the meeting said a delegation would go to Riyadh to assess the situation. Earlier, opposition leader Khurshid Shah took the government to task for reportedly pledging troops when the country was at war with militants. He said it would be disastrous to take part in the war of Yemen.
The oil-rich Sunni kingdom has already begun air-strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen, the region’s most impoverished country, now on the brink of civil war, with potential to become a battleground for Riyadh-Tehran rivalry. Iran has denounced the air-strikes. According the analysts, Pakistan has found itself in awkward situation as it cannot turn down Saudi request due to close ties with the kingdom. But it also enjoys good ties with its neighbour Iran.