Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – Pakistan’s civil and military leadership is currently mulling over the various options to extend support to Saudi Arabia against Houthi rebels in Yemen.


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Summoned at the Prime Minister’s House, the crucial meeting is being chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with army chief General Raheel Sharif and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Rizwan Akhtar in attendance.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and the premier’s adviser, Sartaj Aziz, who are scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia in a few days, are also present.

According to sources, the visit of Pakistani delegates to Riyadh has been postponed for 48 hours for further consultations.

Pakistan earlier said Saudi Arabia would get all potentials of the Pakistan army for fortification of its territorial integrity. But there is no clarity over the nature of cooperation Saudi Arabia is seeking from its ally in Southeast Asia.

Saudi Arabia has requested Pakistan’s support for countering threats from Houthi rebels in Yemen.

As a high-level defence delegation from Pakistan is scheduled to leave for Saudi Arabia, a senior security official has told a British news agency that there would be no decision on joining the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen before the visit.

“There can be no decision (on joining the military campaign) before the delegation’s visit,” one official said.

The team, led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Affairs and Foreign Security Sartaj Aziz, was due to leave either on Monday or in the next few days, security officials told Reuters.

According to a Saudi military spokesman, there are already around 750-800 Pakistani servicemen in Saudi Arabia but none was combat trooper.

He declined to comment about their duties and it was not immediately clear what kind of military support Saudi Arabia was seeking.

Pakistan is a regional ally of Saudi Arabia, but has yet to commit itself publicly to military support to Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia had always helped Pakistan like an elder brother,” Asif told a seminar in Lahore shown on television channels. “Pakistan will extend all support to Saudi Arabia if the country’s security is threatened.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a telephone call with Saudi King Salman on Saturday, offered “all potentials of the Pakistan army”, media quoted the Saudi Press Agency as saying.