Riyadh to press Nawaz for more troops to fight IS threat: report

Published: March 4, 2015


As Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif departed on Wednesday on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, reports suggest that Riyadh is set to press the premier to boost the number of Pakistani troops in the Kingdom to fight militants, including  the Islamic State.

However, as per a report published in Gulf News, Islamabad is cautious about broadening its security relationship with Riyadh.

“There is uncertainty in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia deals with the wider Islamic State-related challenge,” a former national security adviser to Nawaz, Mahmoud Durrani said.

Read: Prime Minister Nawaz departs for Saudi Arabia

“Pakistan has to be careful to avoid getting embroiled in a relationship with the Saudis which only exposes us to new controversies.”

Riyadh is concerned about Islamic State, which has taken over large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, seeking to target the kingdom.

Read: Erdogan in Riyadh as Saudi Arabia seeks ‘Sunni unity’ against IS

“The Saudis are very keen to boost their security apparatus, and Pakistan as a friend with a history of services to the kingdom is of great interest,” a western diplomat said.

Similar to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia faces a militant threat.

Read: Islamic State poses serious threat to Pakistan: FO

However, the two countries face challenges in their bilateral relations as the simmering issue of foreign funding to Madrassahs topped an agenda of the National Action Plan to wipe out terrorism.

After nearly a year-long denial, authorities in the Punjab government finally admitted that some 17 Muslim and non-Muslim countries were contributing hundreds of millions of rupees to around 1,000 religious seminaries in the province.

Read: Punjab police disclosure: 1,000 madrassas foreign-funded

The interior ministry in its written reply to the committee informed the lawmakers the names of the countries and the funds they contributed to madrassas in Pakistan, which included: Qatar Rs198m, Kuwait Rs56m, Saudi Arabia Rs42m, Dubai Rs11m, the Netherlands Rs2.5m, United States Rs0.7m, Hong Kong Rs0.1m, Kuwait Rs0.9m and Bahrain Rs1.8m.

The countries’ close relationship has been built on common security interests dating back to the 1970s, when the Saudi oil boom created employment for a large number of Pakistanis.

“In the 1980s the Saudis were keen to keep Pakistani troops as this helped counter the Iranian threat,” says one former Pakistani army general who served in the kingdom. “For the Saudis, the relationship with Pakistan guarantees both against internal dissent and external threats.”

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Reader Comments (18)

  • AsR
    Mar 4, 2015 - 5:25PM

    Pakistan must give a helping hand but must secure its own interests beforehand. Stopping the funding to madrassahs and getting loans for mega projects like Bhasha Dam should top our list. We could also use this opportunity to bring Iran and Saudis on the same page as long as Islamic state is concerned.Recommend

  • Dr. Asad Sadick
    Mar 4, 2015 - 5:58PM

    Saudi Arabia is for Pakistan a liability, no more an asset. Recommend

  • JSM
    Mar 4, 2015 - 7:11PM

    After having fought USAs war for 15 years, now Pakistan will fight Islamic State for God knows how long. Hope better sense prevails.Recommend

  • Mar 4, 2015 - 7:19PM

    WTH? “MORE” troops? when and WHY did we send ANY troops in the first place? Recommend

  • Mar 4, 2015 - 8:14PM

    Pakistan should send troops to protect the center of Islam, not the political regime of Saudi Arabia.Recommend

  • Mar 4, 2015 - 9:02PM

    We helped USA against Taliban in Afghanistan and see we’re the victims. USA waged war being fought by us. Now, KSA’s request to send more troops would adversely affect the country. We don’t need to get involved in any of the wars!Recommend

  • Uncalled for
    Mar 4, 2015 - 9:04PM

    Uncalled for Saudi bashing continues at ET.Recommend

  • Aziz
    Mar 4, 2015 - 9:51PM

    Saudi Arabia, essentially a medieval tribal society is really an anachronism of modern age.

    That our vision-less and clue-less leaders are so dependent on this country is an insult to Pakistanis.

    Most of us deeply resent their unwarranted interference in our society. Let the Saudis decide what type of society they want in the first place. At the moment they can’t even decide if their women are full Saudi citizens with equal rights or not.Recommend

  • well wiser
    Mar 4, 2015 - 10:10PM

    don’t support Saudi.
    because they treat other country people like a slaves…… Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 4, 2015 - 10:11PM

    The Saudis have to learn to fight their own wars

    We must stop Nawaz Sharif from agreeing to spill more blood of our sons for his benefactors.Recommend

  • The Khan
    Mar 4, 2015 - 11:16PM

    Saudis only treat poor people bad just like how Pakistanis treat their maids. Alhumdullilah we live quite a luxurious life, something many people in Pakistan can only dream of., Recommend

  • ali
    Mar 4, 2015 - 11:50PM

    Why on earth are we sending our troops abroad while our own country is fighting the Terrorists we have to protect our own back yard. Nawaz has business in Saudi where none of the employees are Pakistanis instead all are Indians so you should know where nawaz loyalty lies Recommend

  • proud punjabi
    Mar 5, 2015 - 12:01AM

    I mean its amazing they have a huge wealth from all that oil why not raise a competent professional army? I have heard they have the best weapons an army can dream of then why do they not trust their own army? Pakistan is embroilled in many issues, we r figjting a war against people who r equally bad as isis if not more. how can we send our foces to saudi and thin out our already meagre resources. I dont think pakistan will involve itself in fighting isis at most it will send advisors and thats all. Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 5, 2015 - 6:25AM

    Rent-an-army is getting lots of repeat enquiries !!!Recommend

  • horrible
    Mar 5, 2015 - 9:13AM

    Horrible anti-Pak-Saudi comments.Recommend

  • Sonya
    Mar 5, 2015 - 11:41AM

    Its a conspiracy to make Pakistan Army as mercenaries in the world. Pakistani troops must only serve abroad under the United Nations only. The nation of Pakistan has built this army not to sell on rent but to protect Pakistan. This is why Mushrraf’s slogan of ‘Pakistan first’ makes all the more sense.Recommend

  • First
    Mar 5, 2015 - 9:45PM

    “This is why Mushrraf’s slogan of ‘Pakistan first’ makes all the more sense.” No it does not, as that slogan was to hide Musharraf’s doings, which were in his interest and for justifying his unconstitutional usurpation of power.
    Consider NRO, which provided protection to corrupt politicians and which was designed to prolong Musharraf’s rule by sharing power with the corrupt. So, was that Musharraf first or Pakistan first?Recommend

  • Mashael
    Mar 6, 2015 - 5:26PM

    So who are we- mercenaries? I thought that everyone should clean up their mess and pakistan has learnt it lesson but… my poor country. Saudi itself has funded lot of these extremists and whenever they have a problem they call us in like mercenaries. What do the poor people of Pakistan get- except few more billions in the pockets of our army leaders and politicians. Who dies in all this is the common people and they suffer more whioe getting nothing out of these deals. Please for one- have some dignity and say No. Recommend

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