ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of people joined a Shia-led protest in Islamabad on Friday against Pakistan's decision to join Saudi Arabia's 34-country coalition against extremism, as Riyadh's foreign minister ended a two-day visit to the country.
The protesters presented a memorandum to a Foreign Office spokesperson demanding Pakistan drop out of the alliance, which was announced in December and is seen as the latest sign of a more assertive foreign policy by the kingdom, the dominant Sunni Muslim power in the Middle East.
Pakistan announced on Thursday they would join the Saudi-led military alliance to fight "terrorism" in the Islamic world, following a meeting between Riyadh's foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan welcomes Saudi 'anti-terror' coalition
Saudi Arabia announced the coalition last month, naming Pakistan as a member, but Islamabad had initially reacted cautiously saying it needed further details before deciding the extent of its participation.
In a separate rally in the capital, an estimated 1,500 people chanted slogans against Saudi's execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on January 2, which sparked a deepening crisis between Riyadh and regional rival Iran.
Saudi foreign minister due in Islamabad today
Small scale rallies against the Saudi coalition were also organised in the eastern city of Lahore, while rival protests were held in Islamabad against Iran, with demonstrators accusing Tehran of "meddling" in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ