ISLAMABAD: The army on Sunday strongly denied reports that it was sending troops to Saudi Arabia in an effort to secure the Kingdom’s border with Iraq, where the Islamic State (IS) is gaining ground.
“No Pakistani troops are being sent or being deployed in Saudi Arabia as reported in a section of the media,” said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa on Twitter.
The ISPR DG’s reaction came after certain reports in the Western media claimed Saudi Arabia was looking up to its allies Pakistan and Egypt to send in troops to secure its border with Iraq.
“The Kingdom is calling in favors from Egypt and Pakistan,” an adviser to the Saudi government told The Times. “No one is certain what ISIS has planned, but it’s clear a group like this will target Mecca if it can. We expect them to run out of steam, but no one is taking any chances.”
IS, which was formally known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has a strong control on Iraq’s western borders near Syria and Jordan. With the group taking one town after the other in Iraq, the southern border with Saudi Arabia could be the next possible target.
Last month, The Telegraph had reported that the Saudi government sent in an additional 30,000 soldiers to the desert border to stop any advance from IS.
Interestingly, IS or ISIS has often been seen as a group that flourished under the patronage of the Saudis. There have been allegations in the international community that Saudi Arabia covertly supplied weapons to the group to fight Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
“ISIS has been a Saudi project,” The Atlantic had quoted a senior Qatari official back in June. However, Saudi Arabia has rubbished all such accusations.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th,2014.