Are you with us or with Qatar, Saudis ask Pakistan

Published: June 14, 2017
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Nawaz says Islamabad will not take sides in brewing Middle East crisis. PHOTO: REUTERS

Nawaz says Islamabad will not take sides in brewing Middle East crisis. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has told Saudi Arabia it will not take sides in the brewing diplomatic crisis in the Middle East after Riyadh asked Islamabad “are you with us or with Qatar”.

The Saudi demand for Pakistan to take a clear position on Qatar came during a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, diplomatic sources told The Express Tribune.

Premier Sharif, who was also accompanied by army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other senior officials, dashed to Jeddah on Monday to discuss the emerging situation in the Arab world.

PM, army chief meet Saudi King

Pakistan has been treading a careful path since Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries snapped diplomatic ties with Qatar after accusing the oil-rich country of supporting terrorist groups.

But now Riyadh wants Islamabad to side with the kingdom as it ramped up efforts to isolate Qatar.

A senior government official, who was briefed on the talks at the monarch’s palace in Jeddah, told The Express Tribune that the Pakistani side told the Saudi leadership that Islamabad would support any efforts to foster unity among the Muslim Ummah. However, Pakistan would not take sides in any event that would create divisions within the Muslim world.

Nevertheless, in order to placate Saudi Arabia, Pakistan offered to use its influence over Qatar to defuse the situation. For this purpose, the prime minister will undertake visits to Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

Another official familiar with the development explained that Pakistan would only complement efforts of Kuwait to defuse the crisis in the Arab world instead of playing the role of a direct mediator between Qatar and other Gulf countries. The official said Pakistan was not directly mediating between Qatar and Saudi Arabia at this stage.

Qatar says Gulf citizens can stay despite crisis

“This is primarily an issue among the Gulf countries and we hope they resolve the issue by themselves,” the official said while requesting not to be quoted on record because of the sensitivity of the issue. The official added if efforts of Kuwait and other regional countries could not succeed, then other Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Turkey, were always there to facilitate.

At this stage, Pakistan is only complementing efforts of Kuwait. For this purpose, the prime minister is likely to travel to Kuwait, which is currently spearheading efforts seeking de-escalation of tensions between Qatar and other Gulf countries.

The official also explained that the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia was also part of a ‘goodwill gesture’ in the wake of speculations that Pakistan was sending troops to Qatar.

“The false media reports gave the impression as if we are taking sides in the ongoing crisis in the Gulf,” the official said.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Tuesday said that during meeting with King Salman, Premier Sharif expressed the hope that the current impasse in the Gulf would be resolved soon in the best interest of the Muslim Ummah.

While expressing solidarity with the kingdom and the people of Saudi Arabia, the prime minister said the kingdom had a very special place in the hearts of Pakistanis and that the Muslim world looked up to the monarch as the custodian of the two Holy Mosques.

“The prime minister reaffirmed the strong commitment of the people and the government of Pakistan for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the kingdom, and the safety of Harmain al Shareifain,” the statement said.

King Salman, according to the statement, thanked the prime minister for his visit and recalled the special nature of relationship between the kingdom and Pakistan ever since its independence. King Salman also said that the fight against extremism and terrorism was in the interest of all Muslims and the Ummah.

He also appreciated the exceptional successes of Pakistan against extremism and terrorism, despite the challenging situation and environment, and reiterated the kingdom’s strong commitment and support for all issues of interest for Pakistan, including matters of its national security.

Meanwhile, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah claimed that the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia could not achieve the desired results and hence no joint statement was issued.

Speaking to reporters, he demanded that the government clarify the role of former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif in the Saudi-led counter terrorism alliance in the wake of ongoing developments.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • Kashif
    Jun 14, 2017 - 10:03AM

    This looks familiar. History repeating itself… Asked now by another friend of us. The answer is: we don’t have guts to say you are doing wrong. As before… Recommend

  • Shakil
    Jun 14, 2017 - 10:06AM

    Sharif is in deep trouble, He cant say no to Saudis and He cant say no to Qataris as he need them for Panama case!Recommend

  • Amir
    Jun 14, 2017 - 10:22AM

    and pakistan shelves Qatar LNG deal.

    so we have taken sides…no choiceRecommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Jun 14, 2017 - 10:23AM

    A small advice to my Pak brethren – stay with Qatar – they are advanced / independent / developed / forward than KSA .Recommend

  • illpopo
    Jun 14, 2017 - 10:57AM

    Aren’t we familiar with this threatening statement for quite a while now? This time coming from an alternative channel, as US trying to play smart. Feeling bad for Qatar!Recommend

  • rajesh
    Jun 14, 2017 - 11:11AM

    Say with Qatar, and later say media misinterpreted my interest. Later say with saudi.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Jun 14, 2017 - 11:28AM

    Poor Have no Say in Such Matter Mr. Nawaz! Recommend

  • Munib
    Jun 14, 2017 - 11:47AM

    So much for all the bragging about Raheel being Alliance chief.

    Why Raheel is not using his influence or is he incapable?Recommend

  • Ashraf P
    Jun 14, 2017 - 12:13PM

    Pakistan needs aid from all parties.
    So we are with anyone who gives us money !!Recommend

  • Ashraf P
    Jun 14, 2017 - 12:13PM

    @Bunny Rabbit, if you are an Indian, you could be giving us wrong advice.Recommend

  • Solat
    Jun 14, 2017 - 12:33PM

    Pakistan should stand neutral no matter what saudi’s say.Recommend

  • Sara
    Jun 14, 2017 - 12:52PM

    We all know he’s just spending time abroad. The fact is Saudis are waiting for ramzan to end so they could invade DohaRecommend

  • Sajjeev Antony
    Jun 14, 2017 - 1:06PM

    A wise decision from Pakistani leadership. In the long term good relations with the neigbouring Iran will be far more important than that with the distant Saudi Arabia. Recommend

  • Salman
    Jun 14, 2017 - 1:06PM

    Nawaz can’t dump Qatar as then Qatari prince might recall his letters. This is why it’s not a good idea to mix business and politics, or money laundering and politics for that matter.Recommend

  • wb
    Jun 14, 2017 - 1:13PM

    It’s not at all funny how some of the most well known terror supporters have joined hands to isolate an innocent country called Qatar.

    Qatar and Jordan are the only decent Arab countries left in the middle east. Of course, Oman too.

    Kuwaitis, Emiratis and Saudis are the worst. And now Pakistan joins them.Recommend

  • Talha
    Jun 14, 2017 - 1:22PM

    Say “Yes” to both.Recommend

  • Dr.M.M.Khan
    Jun 14, 2017 - 2:31PM

    When the PM starts playing the role of a diplomat ,he places himself in a tight corner. If we had a proper Foreign Minister we could have delte this question in a different manner. The PM has spent nine years in KSA as a guest exile. He has business interests there. He cannot be neutral. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jun 14, 2017 - 3:05PM

    Say we are with GCC; last heard both Saudi and Qatar are members. Also Kuwait and Oman are sympathetic with Qatar, though towing Saudia line.Recommend

  • nadeem
    Jun 14, 2017 - 3:08PM

    Remember George W. Bush’s famous line ‘you are either with us or against us?’ . DejavuRecommend

  • ashish moulik
    Jun 14, 2017 - 3:36PM

    Spread peace nearby, nice breeze will be around you.lightning fire all around make put you in miserable situation,all holy books warned us.now where you stand will forecast your future. I am sorry for citizen of pak, good ones there never raised their voice to save the future of their own.Recommend

  • kashig
    Jun 14, 2017 - 5:53PM

    v r with all muslims
    ummatRecommend

  • TooTrue
    Jun 14, 2017 - 10:51PM

    Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of world terrorism. It spreads hatred and ignorance by exporting its religious beliefs to poorer countries. And now it’s trying to bully its much smaller neighbor. Pakistan shouldn’t be neutral. It should speak up for the beleaguered Qataris. Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jun 14, 2017 - 11:00PM

    The correct answer is ‘ we are with both ‘……. Recommend

  • Mian Ramish Masood
    Jun 14, 2017 - 11:08PM

    Stay neutral.Recommend

  • Mazhar Iqbal
    Jun 15, 2017 - 12:37AM

    Sir kindly do me this favour please except my message i am satisfied with this plan Saudi Arabia king salmon and Pakistan i agree with you,i am very happy, honestly pays in a long run,, God bless you wish you all the best,i am waiting for you thanksRecommend

  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan
    Jun 15, 2017 - 1:32AM

    Please, let the Pakistanis make their own decisions, if they wish to get into a sectarian war then their decision. We should protect our minorities no matter what their number is and stay neutral. But, I feel, qatar us on the right direction. I might be wrong and give the right to repudiate me. This is proper indian nehruvian diplomacy which got miscued by time. If there was a jinnah who lost lost his life in an ambulance and could have lived and here our pandit nehru was there then the problem would have been solved. Please, nehru and patella along with maulana abul azad did their best and India is still united. There are fools in all countries across the globe but it does not mean that “if a dog bite me and bite him in retaliation. Rab rakhaRecommend

  • sikander
    Jun 15, 2017 - 1:34AM

    To be with the Saudis is being one with Israel! Pakistan must assert it’s unique power and stay away…..Pakistan has the Saudi family disease well established in Pakistan as we suffer from strange mullah savages that have brought devastation to Islam/PakistanRecommend

  • T.Ali
    Jun 15, 2017 - 3:23AM

    I think stick with no one.. pak should be leading these morons not following behind them Turkey and pakistan should dissolve this matter by kicking USA and of course little bit zionism out of that.Recommend

  • JKhan
    Jun 15, 2017 - 8:31AM

    “Are you with us or with Qatar, Saudis ask Pakistan”.
    Your Majesty I will ask Qatari Prince and let you know.Recommend

  • Khwaja
    Jun 15, 2017 - 9:25AM

    I would rather not be with any GCC bloke. They have no respect for Pakistanis. We are considered by them as people from a low strata and pathetic lineage. In this case I will make an exception and side with Qatar because they took a pro Iranian stand. Recommend

  • vinsin
    Jun 15, 2017 - 10:16AM

    @sikander:
    Mullah culture is unique to subcontinent only, it has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia. KSA played a major role in formation of Pakistan and only country who helped Pakistan since inception. You are Muslims because of them.Recommend

  • Zafar iqbal
    Jun 15, 2017 - 10:59AM

    We are with both countries Recommend

  • Kamran
    Jun 15, 2017 - 12:53PM

    He should have said that we are with humanity. And Saudis are the exact opposite of it. Qatar, it is.Recommend

  • Paki01
    Jun 16, 2017 - 8:30AM

    Pakistan Should not come under pressure with Saudia Arabia, as they act like dictators in Muslim World. It is beneficial for Pakistan to stay away with this matter.Recommend

  • eash
    Jun 16, 2017 - 9:30AM

    Next Maldives will ask “Are you with us or against us”?Recommend

  • Bisma
    Jun 16, 2017 - 5:17PM

    Wise step and it totally indicates the return of ex-COAS soon !Recommend

  • Shah S
    Jun 17, 2017 - 1:45AM

    When you will prove and show you are with my country….. then we will respond accordingly; Till now you have not shown your real face… which may be very dangerous and not trust worthy; Recommend

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