No change in Syria policy: No strings attached to $1.5b Saudi gift, says Sartaj

Published: March 18, 2014
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Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Aziz said that Pakistan supports dialogue in Syria, which is the only way to resolve the fratricidal civil strife there. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Aziz said that Pakistan supports dialogue in Syria, which is the only way to resolve the fratricidal civil strife there. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The prime minister’s top aide on foreign affairs has reassured a parliamentary panel that Pakistan has not made a U-turn on its Syria policy nor Pakistan-made arms will be used in any civil war.

A recent $1.5 billion cash ‘gift’ from a ‘friendly Muslim country’ triggered media speculation that Islamabad could have cut a secret deal on Syria in return for the money.

But Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, said on Monday that the money was ‘gifted’ by Saudi Arabia through the account of Friends of Democratic Pakistan.

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Aziz said that Pakistan supports dialogue in Syria, which is the only way to resolve the fratricidal civil strife there. He added that Pakistan calls for immediate withdrawal of all foreign armed forces and groups from Syria.

“We support international efforts to find a peaceful Syria-led and inclusive solution being pursued under the Geneva peace process through a comprehensive political dialogue involving the entire spectrum of the Syria polity,” Aziz added.

“Pakistan favours rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners to the victims of the conflict, lifting of the siege of Syria towns and villages as well as establishment of a ‘transitional governing body’ with full executive powers.”

The senators expressed satisfaction over the clarification offered by Aziz. “The prime minister’s adviser has made it clear that Pakistan has not and will not change its policy [on Syria],” said ANP Senator Haji Adeel, who is also the chairperson of the Senate committee.

“We have also been assured that Pakistan will not supply arms and ammunition [to rebels] in Syrian civil war.”

Quoting Aziz, Senator Adeel said the $1.5 billion cash received from Saudi Arabia was a ‘gift’ which has been received through the account of Friends of Democratic Pakistan. “We have also been told that this grant has nothing to do with any policy shift on Syria or supply of weapons [to rebels],” he added.

PML-Q Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said the committee members had expressed concern over the reports of some underhand deal with Saudi Arabia on the Syria imbroglio. Pakistan should stay away from regime-change efforts in Syria, he said.

PPP Senator Sughra Imam said that the ‘clandestine deal’ for $1.5 billion should not land the country in trouble because former military ruler Pervez Musharraf received $18 billion from the US for fighting the ‘war on terror’ in which the country suffered losses worth $78 billion.

The Senate committee also condemned the statement of a Uighur militant leader Abdullah Mansour, who is allegedly hiding somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghanistan borders.

Mansour, leader of the Turkestan Islamic Party, said in a rare and brief interview that his group was gearing up for retribution against China to avenge the deaths of comrades in Beijing’s crackdown on the separatist movement.

Senator Mushahid tabled a resolution in the committee which expressed solidarity with China. The resolution urged the Pakistan government to not allow its territory under any circumstances to be used against any country.

The committee also asked the Foreign Office to officially clarify its position and condemn the statement of the militant leader.

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

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Reader Comments (31)

  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Mar 18, 2014 - 3:47AM

    We have also been assured that Pakistan will not supply arms and ammunition [to rebels] in Syrian civil war.”

    Pakistan will not supply arms and ammunition but will supply volunteer freedom fighters with arms bought in open arm market of Peshawar. How can one blame Pakistan for such noble volunteers?

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  • Raj - USA
    Mar 18, 2014 - 3:49AM

    This is good that Pakistan received the $1.5 billion grant from Saudi Arabia without any conditions attached. This money has come in time and can be used to build the IP gas pipeline.

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  • Mar 18, 2014 - 3:54AM

    Unfortunately,..no one believes Mr. Sartaj.
    Even a village idiot can tell you that the arms
    will be delivered to Saudia. And what Saudia
    does with the arms is no one;s business. Or
    better still,..deliver arms to Jordan. and if
    somehow,…the arms end up in rebels hands,
    that would very unfortunate….See careless,..careless
    Jordanians.

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  • Wizarat
    Mar 18, 2014 - 4:44AM

    I only want a million dollars as a gift, anyone out there who would hand me a check for deposit.

    C’mon Mr Aziz you are better than that, or you take all of Pakistan for a fool. Ask the PM and his family to bring their wealth back to Pakistan and you would not be embarrassed by anyone again. While you are at it you may also publicly ask Bilawal to bring all his assets back to Pakistan and he can ask his father to do the same.
    If you have all these assets back in Pakistan, the dollar would be trading at Rupees 65-70.

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  • jln
    Mar 18, 2014 - 5:19AM

    Pakistan is famous for its lies and double standards around the world and this is one of it

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  • Noor Nabi
    Mar 18, 2014 - 5:46AM

    Mr. Sartaj Aziz, I assume, should be wise enough to know that there is no free cheese except in a mousetrap. This release of $1.5 billion from the Zakaat fund of the Saudis needs to be explained fully to the people of Pakistan.

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  • imran bhatt
    Mar 18, 2014 - 6:37AM

    Only time and that too occasionally, you give out money without any strings attached is when you give it to beggars.

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  • Anjaan
    Mar 18, 2014 - 8:15AM

    I thought there is no free lunch … !! … it seems for Pakistan there is one … !!

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  • chodhary
    Mar 18, 2014 - 9:00AM

    there are at least 35 strings (Punctures) attached to your govt in Pakistan itself, and you want people to believe that there aren’t any strings attached internationally

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  • Proud
    Mar 18, 2014 - 9:47AM

    Absolutely proud to hear that Pakistan government is taking a neutral stance on this issue. We should remain neutral on this .

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  • Rumormonger
    Mar 18, 2014 - 10:06AM

    Two days ago, did Sartaj Aziz not tell the BBC that the $ 1.5 billion gift does not exist? Recommend

  • lalai
    Mar 18, 2014 - 10:11AM

    Dear Sir, you need a lot lore magic to make us believe that there are free lunches in the corporate world.

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  • Faheem Rizvi
    Mar 18, 2014 - 10:51AM

    Blockquote Raj – USA: This is good that Pakistan received the $1.5 billion grant from Saudi Arabia without any conditions attached. This money has come in time and can be used to build the IP gas pipeline
    Blockquote

    One thing is for certain, this money will never be used for the Iran Pakistan Gas pipeline, infact, Saudia Arabia will make sure with more money that this pipeline is never built.

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  • Mohammad
    Mar 18, 2014 - 11:00AM

    PMNS: It better be true that no string attached to 1.5b$ otherwise you will also face the trial of high treason once kicked out of the government.

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  • Gp65
    Mar 18, 2014 - 11:28AM

    @Raj – USA:
    Lol. Wouldn’t the Saudi prince love it if their ‘gift’ was used to build the IP pipeline?

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  • Muhammad
    Mar 18, 2014 - 11:40AM

    What is it then? Zakaat… or something??

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  • Arsalan Younus
    Mar 18, 2014 - 1:28PM

    What a nonsense is he explaining. Does he think Pakistani nation is that much amateur? I don’t believe it, seriously.

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  • Fifo
    Mar 18, 2014 - 2:42PM

    you cannot fool everyone at all times, Mr.sartaj Aziz.

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  • Parvez
    Mar 18, 2014 - 3:01PM

    …….when your crdibility is zero……telling the truth comes across as a lie.

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  • Fifo
    Mar 18, 2014 - 4:04PM

    you cannot make fool of everyone at all times, Mr Sartaj Aziz.

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  • qbc
    Mar 18, 2014 - 4:16PM

    @It Is (still) Economy Stupid:

    We have been down this road many times and it has destroyed our country. Whats so noble in sending are terrorists to syria to kill women and children..

    How would you like it if another country sent its trash to pakistan to cause mayhem and deatruction.

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  • ajeet
    Mar 18, 2014 - 4:43PM

    Either he is a joker or the rest of Pakistan is.

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  • Arsie
    Mar 18, 2014 - 5:33PM

    Why would they go for Pakistani weapons on such a high price when more sophisticated and advanced American weapons are already available to the Syrian rebels. Our opposition needs to come up with something better to degrade the Pml n govt.

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  • Ashraf P
    Mar 18, 2014 - 6:06PM

    There IS such a thing as a free lunch !!

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  • Al-Bakistan
    Mar 18, 2014 - 7:11PM

    Come on boys and girls, if the Saudis want to give away money to Pakistan for free what is your problem? Just take it and salute them.

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  • Zen
    Mar 19, 2014 - 12:03AM

    @Arsie:
    Because no other government is willing to do so.

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  • Mar 19, 2014 - 12:22AM

    Saudis are our friends, Iran is not!

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  • IndianDude
    Mar 19, 2014 - 6:26AM

    Looking at the different masters that the pakistani army serves depending who is paying, usa, saudis, UAE, china etc., the only weapon the pakistani army needs is knee-pads!

    Recommend

  • Roni
    Mar 19, 2014 - 9:33AM

    All of a sudden our muslim brothers started feeling the pain of our starving and dying children. They never felt this much love in the last 6 years or so when we were begging for oil on easy terms and loan and the country was getting darker by day. As soon as the Iranian Pipeline got completed their hearts started aching for our people. The question is how much money have they donated to the starving children in Thar? Now we have to spread Wahhabi agenda in Syria, Afghanistan against Iran and in our own country.

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  • Nida Alvi
    Mar 19, 2014 - 10:32AM

    The Saudis, like all other countries of the world, trust PMLN Government. This glaring fact is manifested in improvement in Pakistan’s scoring and ranking on Transparency International’s TI Index, exponentially high level of investment coming in from friendly countries like China and Turkey.
    Needless to remind that PPP’s Zardari Government had created FoDP (Friends of Democratic Pakistan) Fund. A fashionable female was inducted as Foreign Minister during Zardari’s regime. She went to Saudi Arabia and other countries to ask for funds. But to no avail. The local media kept commenting on her dresses & purses without any consideration to the economic requirement of Pakistan.
    Thanks God, Pakistan is now on the right track with improvement in all economic indicators!

    Recommend

  • someone
    Mar 20, 2014 - 5:15AM

    If Pakistan supported SA in Syria, Iran may just stop transit route for Pakistan to Europe. Seems like Pakistan is between a rock and a hard place.

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