Islamabad, April 7 – Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday said Saudi Arabia sought Pakistani fighter jets, ground troops and naval vessels for the offensive against the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, Geo News reported.
But Pakistan would not participate in any conflict that would divide the Muslim world, Asif said while addressing a joint session of the National Assembly where he also briefed the members on the progress of evacuation of Pakistani nationals from the war-torn country.
He said that the situation in Yemen had been deteriorating over the last few weeks, which had several implications for Pakistan and the whole region. Given the gravity of the Yemen crisis, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had decided that the issue deserved an in-depth reflection in the assembly, he said.
Sharif had asked President Mamnoon Hussain last week to convene a joint session of both houses of the assembly on Monday to discuss the Yemen conflict. Asif said that it had been the government’s consistent policy that Pakistan would not let Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty be threatened and Sharif had communicated it to the Saudi leadership several times.
“We reiterated our unflinching and unwavering commitment to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Any violation of Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke strong response from Pakistan,” he said.
A Pakistani delegation, led by Asif, had held talks with top Saudi officials in Riyadh on the Yemen crisis last week. Asif said no decision was taken last week to send troops to assist the Saudi-led military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen.
He also said that Pakistan would not take part in any conflict that would divide the Muslim world, in an apparent reference to Pakistan’s possible participation in the Yemen conflict. Asif said that the prime minister had also visited Turkey last week and both sides discussed the Yemen issue.
He said that both countries agreed that the continued crisis in Yemen could push the region into turmoil. Pakistan and Turkey consider Saudi Arabia as a “brotherly” country and vowed to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Pakistan is a regional ally of Saudi Arabia, the main Sunni Muslim power in the Gulf region.