Ouster of Assad regime: Riyadh wins Islamabad’s support on Syria

Published: February 18, 2014
Premier Nawaz and the Saudi crown prince witness the agreement signing ceremony. PHOTO: PID

Premier Nawaz and the Saudi crown prince witness the agreement signing ceremony. PHOTO: PID


Saudi Arabia has managed to win crucial support from Pakistan in the ongoing insurrection in Syria, as the two key Muslim states on Monday called for the formation of an interim governing body to replace the Bashar al Assad regime.

Following talks between the visiting Saudi crown prince, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the two countries demanded ‘the formation of a transitional governing body with full executive powers enabling it to take charge of the affairs of the country (Syria)’.

A joint statement issued after the Saudi dignitary’s meetings with the top civil and military leadership in Islamabad clearly suggests a shift in Pakistan’s policy on Syria. Until now, Islamabad had not taken sides in an attempt to maintain a delicate balance in its ties with both Riyadh and Tehran, which are at odds over the Syrian conflict.

Official sources told The Express Tribune that the recent flurry of visits by top Saudi officials were aimed at persuading Islamabad to support Riyadh on Syria after it lost faith in the US administration to oust Assad’s regime.

“The two sides reiterated the need for finding a quick solution to the existing conflict in Syria according to Geneva I Resolution in order to restore peace and security in Syria and prevent bloodshed of the brotherly Syrian people,” reads the joint statement.

The two sides went on to call for an immediate withdrawal of all ‘foreign armed forces and elements’ from Syrian territory. This is believed to be a reference to the alleged Iranian support to the Assad regime.

The two countries also demanded an end to the siege of Syrian towns and villages and cessation of aerial and artillery bombardment. They called for “setting up safe corridors and regions to deliver food and humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian citizens, under international supervision”.

This apparent shift in Pakistan’s Syria policy is likely to upset neighbouring Iran. Monday’s warning by Iran’s interior minister to send troops into Pakistan to secure the release of kidnapped border guards is seen as Tehran’s uneasiness over Islamabad’s warming up ties with Riyadh.

When contacted, a senior government official insisted that there was no change in Pakistan’s Syria policy. Sources, however, said that in return for supporting Saudi Arabia on Syria, Pakistan is expected to get defence contracts and other economic favours from the oil-rich kingdom.

The Saudi crown prince, who is also the country’s minister for defence, also held talks with Army chief General Raheel Sharif and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood.

During these meetings, the two sides agreed to strengthen their defence cooperation. However, details of their understanding have not been made public. Islamabad, according to officials, is keen to sell JF-17 Thunder combat jets and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Afghanistan situation

The two countries expressed their support for Afghan reconciliation and called for including all sides and components of the Afghan society for the restoration of peace and stability in the strife-torn country. They underlined support for the political process through holding the elections scheduled for April 2014.

Kashmir solution

The Saudi side expressed hope for reaching a peaceful resolution to the decades-old Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions so that it contributes to the achievement of permanent peace and stability in the region.

The Saudi side welcomed the positive developments in Pakistan-India relations, which would reflect positively in the interest of the two neighbouring countries and stability in the South Asian region.

Bilateral ties

The two sides called for taking advantage of the opportunities available in the two brotherly countries for expanding and improving investment, trade, energy, infrastructure development, agriculture and exchange of government’s delegations for mutual benefit of the two brotherly countries.

The two sides decided to continue to work on further fortifying existing political relations between the two countries through regular holding of bilateral consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries. The two sides also agreed on the need to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defence.

Both sides acknowledged importance of completing necessary measures for signing of the Agreements and MoUs in different fields including Islamic Affairs and endowments, labour, manpower, sports and an agreement to encourage and protect mutual investment in the two countries.

The two sides reiterated their commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and continue to cooperate in the field of exchange of security related information.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (77)

  • Hassan
    Feb 18, 2014 - 3:26AM

    “The two sides went on to call for an immediate withdrawal of all ‘foreign armed forces and elements’ from Syrian territory. This is believed to be a reference to the alleged Iranian support to the Assad regime”

    As opposed to the 38 different nationalities fighting in someone else’s country, “They say, We do” same old pathetic lapdog business. Secondly how about the Syrian people decide who there president is, and not anyone else ie the US KSA UK, Petro dollars etc etc


  • Feb 18, 2014 - 3:27AM

    Not a good decision.


  • Shahid Kinnare
    Feb 18, 2014 - 3:42AM

    it seem State of Pakistan has not learn its lesson not to interfere in others country from USSSR. What if Syria come out winner in this game remember Saudi Arabia is not a natural country.


  • Ali
    Feb 18, 2014 - 4:02AM

    I am sick of my Province of Punjab rulers selling Pakistans soul over some saudi petro dollars and American Aid. This it is slavery


  • Baloch southhall UK
    Feb 18, 2014 - 4:05AM

    I dont like the feel of this meeting. Pakistan should stay completely neutral of syrian issue (apart from humanitarian aid). We are still dealing the after shocks of zia’s policies towards this region. another chapter of foreign policy wrong doings will bring more proxies and chaos in pakistan.
    PM nawaz sharif. please stay out of this.


  • ground reality
    Feb 18, 2014 - 4:16AM

    I congratulate Pakistan for standing with their Syrian brethren in this time of need. We should also support UN resolutions calling for ouster of maniac Bashar and put an end to Syrian Genocide under his terrorist regime.


  • abc
    Feb 18, 2014 - 4:18AM

    125,000 people dead, 1 million injured, streets filled with blood, cities burnt down to ashes…..yet the monster rules. Such is the lust for power


  • joognu
    Feb 18, 2014 - 4:55AM

    Shameful affair as now Pakistani soil would be used once again as a recruitment agency for fight in syria exactly as it was done for Bahrain. The slave of nation is selling the nation in wholesale.


  • Zee
    Feb 18, 2014 - 5:01AM

    Please don’t worry about Syria Mr.PM, your country men are dying every day!!


  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Feb 18, 2014 - 5:28AM

    So for few defense contracts Pakistan sold its founding father’s conscious by agreeing to eliminate Shia brothers. It is very similar to Zia ul Haq’s massacre of Palestine people, as it is called Black September, on the Jordan River. For his action he received a Mercedes and few dollars from King of Jordan. It appears that all Muslim countries would agree with KSA and gang up in eliminating remaining Shia stronghold such as Syria and Iran i.e. plan is to ensure that only one sect will survive. so much for inclusion, diversity and minority rights.


  • Professor
    Feb 18, 2014 - 5:32AM

    Apne Shia bhai ko bhi sukoon se jeene dho ! Stop interfering in other nations !!


  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Feb 18, 2014 - 5:40AM

    More chartered flights are expected to take off from Pakistan.


  • Usman
    Feb 18, 2014 - 5:55AM

    This is an absolutely foolish decision, we have no issue taking sides in yet another conflict. When we learn to stay neutral? We do not need KSA, US, China or anyone else’s support. Our leaders have little faith in their own nation, more faith in other nations.


  • Yahudi Arabia
    Feb 18, 2014 - 6:10AM

    Pakistan is supporting Yankee Jihad for establishment of Khilafat-e-Syria which will be promoting US and Israeli policies.

    Just for few dollars Pakistani leaders have sold themselves yet again. They were duped when promise of Khilafat-e-Bosnia were given to Pakistanis but later when Bosnia was balkanized from Yugoslavia, the patsy mujahedeen made way for IMF financial mujahedeen to liberate people from their wealth on individual and national level.


  • Hari Om
    Feb 18, 2014 - 6:45AM

    Not surprising that the Government of Pakistan (GoP) has allowed religious sectarian partisanship to colour its position on a dispute that has nothing whatsoever to do with Pakistan given the GoP’s pathetic record of ensuring basic security for Shia Mohammaddens in Pakistan as evidenced by the frequent pogroms by launched against the Shia by their Sunni co-religionists .

    If I were a Pakistani of the Shia Mohammadden sect, I would be deeply upset with this instance of the Government of Pakistan pandering to Sunni Mohammadden belligerence over a dispute that has nothing to do with Pakistan.


  • Bina Beneari
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:02AM

    The killing of Muslims in the Middle East is beyond pathetic, these factions claim Islam as their religion but are promoting violence to ethnic cleansing for personal power by proclaiming these are I soldiers of Islam.

    Nonetheless, why is taking our Islamic elders so long ? How many thousands of Syrians must die before the Muslim world acts, why are we waiting for so long as these murders do not They are not representative of Muslims. They are an abnormal deviant group with no brains or a conscience.


  • Saif
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:05AM

    Congratulation to Pakistan on a catching another poisoned tip stray arrow with spectacular acrobatic kinky diplomatic move!
    Pakistan has achieved distinction among non Arab Muslim countries; what a way to return personal favours Mr PM!


  • Saif
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:07AM

    Fading picture of Mr Jinnah in the background says it all!


  • Anwar
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:07AM

    A very unfortunate development. Salafis have managed to buy another economically depressed country..


  • Asim
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:23AM

    So Saudis bought Nawaz’s support. What’s new? PM is not going to say NO to his in-laws.


  • Pakistani
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:36AM

    We have no business poking our noses in this, but of course mr sharif had to bow before his masters!


  • GIndian
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:39AM

    Big deal!


  • Sri Varahadev
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:44AM

    Shameful lack of consideration by Pakistan Government for the feelings of her own Shia citizens.


  • Tahir
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:44AM

    Good decision, Assad has caused a genocide and must be removed.


  • Mirza
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:45AM

    Pakistan is a much bigger and powerful country and should not let itself by dictated by those who behead more Pakistanis than any other country of the world including Pakistani govt. Did Pakistani rulers talk to Saudis about granting basic human rights to Pakistanis there? How about the new born babies what rights if any they have in SA and the list goes on and on?


  • Maulana Diesel
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:53AM

    The Govt shall put its own house in order. Forget about Syria and Afghanistan and Kashmir.


  • Mirza
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:05AM

    Saudi Arabia has managed to win crucial support from Pakistan in the ongoing insurrection in Syria
    That is a shocker! If Pakistani support is that crucial then the rebels should now win swiftly.


  • IndianBuraq
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:21AM



  • Ricky
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:25AM

    There have already been news that dead bodies of Pakistanis are coming from Syria. These Whabi/Salafi are going to Syria to fight in their civil war. Now Pakistani govt has officially joined hands with the Kingdom so it is going to be free for all. They can still not overthrow the Syrian govt because its supporters give their lives for their cause while Saudis “hire” other poor to fight their war.


  • Nikki
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:29AM

    This collaboration has created strong resentment in Iran.


  • Hamada pakistan
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:37AM

    When it comes to solving the Kashmir issue these Arabs just “express hope”. Our govt should not take sides in Syria but stay neutral.


  • Roni
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:46AM

    We are always shooting ourselves on the foot. We tried to interfere in Bangladesh’s internal affairs for one Mullah now we are going against another neighbor Iran. When would we understand that for an insignificant country we have to stop playing the role of a bully?


  • Syed
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:53AM

    Why is Pakistan always supporting what Saudia/America wants? $$$


  • HS
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:06AM

    Bad decision. Pak can’t afford to take sides.


  • MAD
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:06AM

    Now you know why Iran is not only working on relations with PPP but also the PTI. They know that this particular govt will be hopeless with regard to Pak- Iran relations


  • Phoenix
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:17AM

    If Nawaz Government gets involved over Syrian conflict and support KSA government , this will be an intimation of another disaster to Pak future , Nawaz will be remembered in history as another Zia ul-haq


  • Feb 18, 2014 - 9:20AM

    the butcher of Syria and his mercenaries deserves no support whatsoever, at last, Pakistan is on the right side, it is time for international community to act against the ongoing genocide in syriaRecommend

  • Fahad Zia
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:24AM

    Nawaz sharif should handle cult of taliban first before endorsing saudi influence in the arab region !


  • Anees
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:31AM

    Its mean Pakistan with Saudi Arab+ USA+ Israel and -Iran -China -Russia, so around our borders now all enemies including india, Afghanistan, China and now Iran so how will Pakistan Continue the policy of Nawaz family not the people of Pakistan.


  • Roadkashehzada
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:33AM

    That’s how Pakistan gets dragged into totally unnecessary mess


  • Abid
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:35AM

    So the reason is quite obvious why is Iran threatening us.


  • rasgullah
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:39AM

    Mow that Pakistan has approved this, Assad will resign as soon as he reads this.


  • Asad Khan
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:40AM

    For Syria there is no ready-made Tehran or Riyadh solution exists. The only workable model will be Geneva I Resolution with representation of all entities within Syria.



  • Sexton Blake
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:40AM

    That is funny. I thought that Saudi Arabia was sending and arming the al qaeda terrorists in Syria. Why does Pakistan always support the bad guys?.


  • Observer
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:47AM

    “Riyadh wins Islamabad support”. Question is what is power of beggar Islamabad in world’s affair. Can’t get rid of terrorists hiding in its territories.


  • Ali
    Feb 18, 2014 - 10:15AM

    It’s been shameless decision for the syria taken by Nawaz regime.. Bowing in-front of his Saudi lords..


  • Muhammad Nadeem
    Feb 18, 2014 - 10:42AM

    another bluder by the NAWAZ Government to support Saudia on Syrian Issue….this means pakistan is full fledged partner with Saudia in sponsoring & supporting terrorism in Syria….SHAMEFUL DAY FOR PAKISTAN & ITS PEOPLE…….MAY ALLAH HELP PAKISTAN


  • Introspection
    Feb 18, 2014 - 10:59AM

    Make no mistake about it: al Assad is a war criminal, having had his own civilians and soldiers slaughtered in a war to keep his family in power.


  • Yahudi Arabia
    Feb 18, 2014 - 11:11AM

    @Sri Varahadev:
    This is not necessarily a shia issue. Lot of Sunnis are tired of Saudi Arabia maligning name of Islam to save petro-dollar farce.


  • Raj - USA
    Feb 18, 2014 - 11:27AM

    I feel very sorry for Pakistan. It is very difficult for Pakistan to stand up against the saudi pressure. Had saudis been a real brotherly country, they would not have pushed Pakistan to this, knowing very well that Pakistan does not have the support of USA and Iran is on its borders. It will also damage Pakistan’s relationship with China. Already Pakistan is facing a huge problem with TTP and the saudis are putting Pakistan in more problems. Pakistan joining the saudis is bad for the entire region also.


  • Feb 18, 2014 - 11:46AM

    for all the supporters of iranian regime here … i am yet to meet a single iranian student in the west, who doesnt curse on Khomeni and his revolution, many iranians call it slavery of the iranian people and economy


  • chandran
    Feb 18, 2014 - 1:21PM

    what a nice photo of jinah saab on the wall but unfortunately he himself a shia
    where saudi’s are signing the document. what to say about this?


  • Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan
    Feb 18, 2014 - 2:10PM

    I support this stance. We Pakistanis should be more active in affairs in the Muslim world, and not surrender to secular racists, sectarian bullies, or Indians who wish to keep us isolated. Any Muslim nation which does not feel sorrow for the people of Syria does not deserve to be called a Muslim nation. We support freedom for all Muslims from tyranny. Its not a Shia/Sunni/Wahabbi problem, but 90% of the people in Syria are against Assad. We should support them, they are our brothers and sisters.


  • Parvez
    Feb 18, 2014 - 2:12PM

    Big mistake…………but when what does one expect from our leaders.


  • cyrus
    Feb 18, 2014 - 2:23PM

    is that our WAR?Recommend

  • Hassan Jawad
    Feb 18, 2014 - 5:28PM

    I’m still not sure about the authenticity of Pakistan’s policy shift regarding Syrian Conflict, but if it’s true, this would create more bloodshed of Shia Community and bring more chaos in our homeland which is already indulged in countless internal issues.


  • Don Quixote
    Feb 18, 2014 - 5:36PM

    Sad to see still we cudnt end RSA’s influence on us :(
    Its the Syrian people to decide what they want… I wish one day RSA’s and Pakistan’s governments r toppled like they r now planning for Syria…


  • Sexton Blake
    Feb 18, 2014 - 5:47PM

    Worlds almost fail me, again. The US and its puppet countries are on a permanent war footing and have been fighting in a sort of way since the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and then seriously since 2001. Pakistan, a relatively poor country, has been on war alert since partition, has become involved in one serious skirmish after another since then, and particularly so since the US became involved with and subsequently invaded Afghanistan. Now Pakistan appears determined to get into the Syrian disaster when it has not solved its extremely serious domestic and border problems in the East and West. The Pakistan people have my sympathy. They appear to have the same type of political idiots running their country as the Western countries. Additionally, Pakistan cannot ignore the fact that it may well become extremely vulnerable to the Indians.. I do not see the Pakistan economy and standard-of-living improving anytime soon as long as its ongoing, expensive and expanding war economy continues. This of course has be considered in light of the Indian defence budget which has swollen to Rs2,24 trillion so the Pakistan defence budget can only continue to rise. However, It should be realized that India does not intend to seriously fight Pakistan. One of its key strategies is to keep Pakistan broke and unstable. Unfortunately Pakistan has been falling into the Indian trap since 1948, and of course it gives the Government an excuse to expand its military budget. Best of luck Pakistan people.


  • Syed
    Feb 18, 2014 - 6:43PM

    All saudi arabs I have seen curse saudia & slave of west. What does that mean? At least Iran takes a stand against America unlike saudia/Pakistan & other so called Muslim countries. Either your with USA or with Iran. period


  • Riaz
    Feb 18, 2014 - 6:54PM

    I agree that this is the least diplomatic government in recent years and Nawaz and Shabaz are the only minister who make policy.
    However Pakistan needs to have a basic policy and stick to that. Pakistan was supporting because of China and Iran. However we should always side with the people of Syria and not the regime. Asad has proven to be bucher of thousands and it is time for him to go. Of course we will have to pay the price for it in more secterian conflict because Malaki is also a butcher and he will use his dollars in collaboration with Iran to cause unrest in Pakistan. Pakistan should try to help resolve this conflict Rohani and have Asad exit Syria and national unity government installed in Iraq. If Rohani can persuade Obama to not interfere in Syria may be he can talked into stopping the bloodshed in Iraq and Syria.
    @Raj I agree with you we can’t expect much foresight for this govt because all their pririorities are related to food at the dinner table and nothing beyond. It is extreme step in opposition of China and Russian two countries who have supported Pakistan against western powers.


  • Ali tanoli
    Feb 18, 2014 - 7:09PM

    good decision by pakistan may allah bless both countries…


  • afroze fatemah
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:04PM

    nawaz paid the price of his jeddah stay !


  • someone
    Feb 18, 2014 - 8:08PM

    @Raj – USA:
    Agree, but does Pakistan really have a choice? There is no Gas deal with Iran and if Saudi’s also stop credit line for oil, that would be it for Pakistan.Also Pakistan can not say no to its potential nuclear weapon buyer.


  • Abdul Moueed Haroon
    Feb 18, 2014 - 9:53PM

    YAYY …. i think its already late … bashar-ul-Asad and all the tyrants of the world should be destroyed fore the common good of the world. He is not a leader, not a ruler , he is a dictator. We will fight this war, all the world united against iran and syrian government. its time to make this world a better place by eliminating this evil. May GOD be with us all.


  • @H__3
    Feb 18, 2014 - 10:46PM

    Well done, Pakistan. 5 fingers 5 continents – the other five for your own countryRecommend

  • tayyab
    Feb 19, 2014 - 12:05AM

    Beggars can’t be choosers, Pakistani media showed that religious fighters are going Syria to weigh holy war. Pakisatan knows that Saudi Arabia is biggest democracy in the world and want to change Syrian President Assad.When Mushraf kicked him he went to Saudi Arabia who saved him from him, so now Saudia Arabia want Pakistan to do some dirty work for him in reward for few more dollars.


  • Wizarat
    Feb 19, 2014 - 5:02AM

    @ground reality:
    I would have appreciated the Saudis to tell their gofers to chill it. The talibans and the LeJ and other terrorist organizations that they fund in Pakistan and yes I am a peacenik and want all killing to stop regardless of who is doing it.


  • Wizarat
    Feb 19, 2014 - 5:11AM

    A few more reasons why this is done:
    Nawaz has most of his wealth in Saudi Arabia,
    Saudi Arabia, US, UK, the West, Qatar, Israel wants to continue the killings of Muslims by Muslims.
    Just a thought – if the interpretations of Islam requires so called Muslims to kill every other Muslim that do not have the same interpretation or understanding of Islam. It is being practiced in about 27 so called Muslim countries.

    What a SHAME


  • Akhtar Baloch
    Feb 19, 2014 - 5:16AM

    All Baloch people support Pakistan’s stance against Iranian sectarian behavior. More Baloch Sunnis are murdered in Sistan-Baluchistan-province of Iran than the whole of the executed in all Iran. Iran’s behavior to Sunni Afghans, Arabs, Kurds, Turks also is similar. Shame on this sectarian state for dividing Muslims and supporting dictatorial regimes.


  • Maula Jatt
    Feb 19, 2014 - 10:58AM

    Good job for Pakistan government. Pakistan will always support Syrian and all Arab brothers.


  • shahid
    Feb 19, 2014 - 6:23PM

    This is the greatest decision that Nawaz shareef has ever made we are proud of him,i hop he will stick to eat and treat the thugs if Bashar al Assad and his Iranian supporter a lesson that they never forget.


  • usman786
    Feb 19, 2014 - 6:57PM

    Nargis Sethi stills hold imp portfolio. Heard she is not grade 21 or 22


  • Indus
    Feb 19, 2014 - 7:51PM

    Wonder what is China’s response will be? China and Russia have Billions of dollars stake in Syria hence back’s Assad’s regime. News is SA wants 2 divisions (30,000 troops) from Pakistan to go fight is Syria. SA wants Pakistan to fight against China’s interests.


  • sulae
    Feb 19, 2014 - 8:54PM

    bravoooo, mr nawaz sharif, you can never be on right track, now you are going to complete agenda of Zia ul haq as you promised once on his grave visit….
    For god sake leave us to live with dignity that is possible only without any dependencies on such monarchies….


  • Ali
    Feb 20, 2014 - 6:26PM

    What choice did Sharif have?

    He has lots of money invested in Saudi and family ties to the Saudi royals.
    Obviously he has to look after those first and then worry about the country later.
    Typical politician.

    Plunge the country into sectarian warfare but make sure his Saudi masters who gave him a palace while in exile are happy.


  • Gp65
    Feb 24, 2014 - 5:08AM

    @Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan:
    What about 90% of people of Bahrain who are Shias? If this is not a Sunni Shia issue, why did Pakistanis o to crush Shias protesting for rights against their Sunni ruler in Bahrain?


  • munir
    Feb 24, 2014 - 9:11PM

    It seems we will never learn from history. Following our Saudi overlords and easily swayed by their check book will just help us regress further. The oppressive and regressive Saudi regime is far from something to support. The fact that Islam’s holiest sites are located in Saudi Arabia has allowed them to blackmail the rest of the Muslim world to spread there xenophobic hatred and sectarianism. If we replace Saudi Arabia with USA in the passage above, this comments section would be filled with outrage and anti-US rhetoric about selling our sovereignty for a few dollars. Apparently all is well when we sell out to the Saudi’s, Qatari’s or Emirati’s.Recommend

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