Yemen conundrum: Govt weighs options on troop deployment in KSA

Published: March 30, 2015
Yemeni supporters of the separatist Southern Movement stand guard at the entrance of the port in the southern city of Aden on March 29, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Yemeni supporters of the separatist Southern Movement stand guard at the entrance of the port in the southern city of Aden on March 29, 2015. PHOTO: AFP


The government is studying different options on how to support the Saudi-led military coalition in its campaign against the Houthi rebels in strife-torn Yemen. And sources told The Express Tribune that a high-level delegation will apprise the prime minister of the modalities before leaving for Riyadh.

One option, according to sources, is for Pakistan to commit troops only for the territorial security of Saudi Arabia. The second option is putting Pakistani troops at the disposal of Riyadh for use both within the oil-rich kingdom and for special tasks in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is said to have requested for one corps for three to four years. Sources, however, said that modalities were being worked out for sending a few brigades or divisions. One option under consideration is using the reservist cadre because the Pakistan Army is already stretched thin in the fight against homegrown terrorists.

According to their calculation, the army reservists, including troops, JCOs and commissioned officers, will make up a brigade-plus force, sources said. All these reservists are well trained and combat-tested. They can be sent to Saudi Arabia for a period of 3-4 years and the kingdom could equip them with arms.

The high-level delegation, which is set to leave for Riyadh anytime to assess the situation and discuss modalities, could offer Pakistani commandos for special missions in Yemen. Riyadh has already favoured the proposal. For this purpose, sources said, necessary paperwork has already been done and a detailed study was being conducted.

The delegation would apprise the prime minister of the outcome of their discussions in Saudi Arabia and only then the government would negotiate a formal agreement with the Saudi authorities.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry confirmed in his Saturday night’s news briefing that the delegation, comprising Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and senior military officers, would visit the kingdom most likely on Monday (today).

Some political analysts believe that Pakistan cannot reject outright the Saudi request for help due to economic, religious and social reasons. According to the foreign ministry’s figures the Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia is 2.1 million-strong, including 1.7 million on work visas. The government believes its refusal to help the kingdom would put the economic future of 2.1 million Pakistani families at risk, source added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2015.


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Reader Comments (43)

  • Mar 30, 2015 - 3:04AM

    If they are deployed, Nawaz will HAVE TO LEAD THEM. from the front
    Be the first to put his life in danger. No asking Paks to sacrifice their
    lives on foreign soil. This not Paks war. No lounging in RAIWIND PALACE
    among the peacocks, eating pakoras. [He will get a crash course in how
    to handle a Gen. Raheel, Himself.]Recommend

  • Azi
    Mar 30, 2015 - 3:35AM

    They behead our people without trials or proof of their crimes and we who already are in a war are expected to save their necks. Great logic.Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Mar 30, 2015 - 3:40AM

    Deployment of Pakistan Army in Saudi Arabia: If this happens it will be to safeguard Nawaz Shareef’s own interest. Gen. Raheel must stand in the way of this suicidal actRecommend

  • Allah Ditta
    Mar 30, 2015 - 3:53AM

    Sir Jee, kaon lokan day puttar marwanday o. Pakistan has fought enough wars for other and every time we got embroiled. Let the oil rich and dying monarchies hire the private guns called mercenaries. Why should Pakistan army fight to save the most oppressive regime on the face of earth? Recommend

  • Allah Ditta
    Mar 30, 2015 - 3:58AM

    The government should also know that they treat our workforce with utmost contempt. One has to hear the stories of expatriates. Recommend

  • woody
    Mar 30, 2015 - 4:02AM

    And sources told The Express Tribune that a high-level delegation will apprise the prime minister of the modalities before leaving for Riyadh.
    Sounds great unless you know that the military doesn’t report to the PM and that the decision is going to be made solely by COAS. I would also argue that the Saudi’s know who controls this decision and got the OK from COAS before they made a public announcement about Pakistan providing military help.Recommend

  • Faruq
    Mar 30, 2015 - 5:06AM

    Ideally, I want our troops protecting Pakistan and not being mercenaried out to the Gulf. At most, we should offer to help defend Saudi territory. That’s it.Recommend

  • sabi
    Mar 30, 2015 - 5:18AM

    Good decision and tell them that we are more capable than western forces to restore permanent peace in short possible terms.Tell them also this assistance is not based on any greed or compulsion but for mutual benefits of whole Islamic block.Prove to them that we are not beggars but leader.This is a golden opportunity to establish respect among Arab countries.
    Don’t give pseudo intellectuals any importance.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 30, 2015 - 6:16AM

    One option, according to sources, is for Pakistan to commit troops only for the territorial security of Saudi Arabia.

    This obligation is in accordance with the defense agreementtween the two countries.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Kashif Siddiqui
    Mar 30, 2015 - 7:30AM

    Despite the troop deployment being a bitter pill to swallow, Saudi Arabia is the only safeguard mechanism Pakistan has to prevent an all out economic collapse. Saudis have pumped in billions into the fragile economy…when needed…Recommend

  • Muhammad Shoaib
    Mar 30, 2015 - 9:01AM

    Sending the Reservists to KSA is the best option because these are already trained soldiers and officers and they are normally well below the age of 50. Some of these have definitely seen action against militants which shall be beneficial to KSA. This way, we will be in a position to rehabilitate our retired young soldiers and officers, too. The other GCC member states may follow this and hence a large number of dedicated, well-trained,professional and loyal soldiers can be inducted into their Armies. This will also pave the path of further improving our already good relations with these Arab Brotherly Countries. We must get closer to these Arab Countries in any case because our future lies with them and this is the best chance for us to avail it now.Recommend

    Mar 30, 2015 - 9:16AM

    All comments are typical of our disoriented psyche. You don’t see self esteem or dignity any where. The repeated tenures of Nawaz Sharif family has made us money mongers too. The top priority of Sharif brothers and Isaq Dar is money and money alone. Don’t you read or see TV news where IMF formulates our internal fiscal policies. Can there anything be more degrading for any proud people? So here again whatever the Royal house of SAUDIA requires will be complied with most obediently by this lame duck Prime Minister.Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2015 - 9:41AM

    The decision should based on long term interest of Pakistan. It should not be based on getting few billion dollars as that mentality has landed Pakistan into deep trouble and Pakistan is suffering today due to that mind set of Pakistani military and civilian leadership. Help Saudis but on your terms and conditions to ensure Pakistan interest in mind.Recommend

  • faisal
    Mar 30, 2015 - 9:48AM

    I fail to understand why people are not looking at writing on the wall.
    1. Pakistan has already send elements of spl forces AND they are training with Saudi’ s at hills along Yemen. Pathfinders of military are at zijan including air-force. photographs are on internet
    2. Given Pakistanis past relation and obligations take taken , Pakistan can not say no, given 2.1 million working force in Saudi Arabia. Expect for first afghan war , Pakistan really never had option of choosing side or to be neutral.
    3. Please don’t blame Sharif, final decision are taken at pindi and not at Islamabad. Have people forgotten events during sharif and beg during first gulf war.
    4. lastly Pakistan army is not needed to fight against houtis but actually to protect 5000 prince/ princess from suspected public revolt. Saudi don’t trust their own army which has 37% element of yemeni or sudani . same task which Pakistanis are doing at Bahrain .
    5. lastly what ever is turn of events, who ever wins or looses, because of past policies Pakistan will pay the price in some or other form.Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2015 - 10:00AM
  • N
    Mar 30, 2015 - 10:10AM

    Right decision at right time great Saudi Nation has been always helping Pakistan in hard times its time to stand with our Saudi brothers
    Long live two brotherly countriesRecommend

    Mar 30, 2015 - 10:15AM

    Dont sacrifice Principles over materialistic gains.
    Create jobs for 2.1 millions working in KSA. Its the other way round, KSA’ economy. Is to suffer drastically if these Pakistanis are fired. Bring those Pakistanis back if threatened amd black mailed. This is the test for Nawaz if he would protect National Interest. My guess is he would be instrumental to killing of Shiites in Yemen as he did in Bahrain. If he chooses the later, his days in power will be approaching a fast end,Recommend

  • MAK
    Mar 30, 2015 - 10:16AM

    Now, the question is where is Saudi’s best friend India in this situation, whose millions of residents are living in Saudia Arabia and get more privileges than Pakistani and Egyptian brothers.Recommend

  • Ricky
    Mar 30, 2015 - 10:20AM

    How many decades did Pakistani army take to go against Taliban who were killing us by tens of thousands? Taking action against Yemen brothers who have not attacked any country Pakistani army is so quick? Let us all serve rich kings and sheikhs and become total mercenary. Recommend

  • SAD
    Mar 30, 2015 - 10:57AM

    Rich men support war, in which poor men are expected to sacrifice their lives.Recommend

  • miristan
    Mar 30, 2015 - 11:11AM

    Saudi are jumping the gun. We live in 21st century. Why rebellion in Yemen ? Because majority is being suppressed by the current regime. Saudi wants to use force rather than peaceful solution to the problem. Now is the time for United Nation to come in to action and show the same spirit as shown in South Sudan,East Timur and Bosnia.Recommend

  • Muhammad Shoaib
    Mar 30, 2015 - 11:51AM

    @MAK: you wrote, “Now, the question is where is Saudi’s best friend India in this situation, whose millions of residents are living in Saudia Arabia and get more privileges than Pakistani and Egyptian brothers.” Yes you are right because we are ready to die for our Arab brothers in any case and in any circumstances but they should also think over what you have written. They should prefer Pakistani and Egyptians for employment as we both will remain with our Arab Gulf brothers in any difficult situation ready to lay our lives for them.Recommend

  • Malikpur Janderbari - Abbottabad
    Mar 30, 2015 - 12:25PM

    Pakistan must send troops in KSA, this is the time to prove our brotherhood with our reliable brothers… they helped us centuries now their turn…. many people post stupid comments but govt must consider this opportunity to help Saudis who will remember us centuries …. don’t lost the opportunity!Recommend

  • Faraz
    Mar 30, 2015 - 12:29PM

    I remember reading with amusement Khwaja Asif’s statement made in parliament, that we will not become part of any conflict that divides the Muslim world. I read with even more amusement, how comments section was flooded with people praising the govt. With such naive people amongst our population, we will always be taken for a ride by our ruling elite.
    Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the history of the Sharifs, should know this decision was inevitable. Even if it was taken in Rawalpindi, it will have the complete support of the Sharifs. Whatever statement is made in parliament or media to the contrary, is complete hogwash. Recommend

  • MAK
    Mar 30, 2015 - 12:39PM

    @Muhammad Shoaib: The way you said it looks good in Books and sweet but practical reality is very much different, its not your fault, problem is that we do not study history & current affairs. People living in middle east have very much high regards for Indians & Other Nationalities than Pakistanis. They even don’t give respect to us due to our internal situation. Therefore, before poking our nose in others matters, we (Pakistanis) should try to think about loss of our 80,000 citizens (Children, Brothers & Sisters) due to Terrorism, Proxy Wars & Internal Rifts.Recommend

  • MAK
    Mar 30, 2015 - 1:10PM

    Further, I always think that why our nation is in so much difficulties despite having so much resources. Now after reading various comments, I got my answer. It is because just poke our nose in others matter and do not think of our Home Pakistan which is facing so much difficulties.Recommend

  • abc
    Mar 30, 2015 - 1:23PM

    Guys whatever happens but we should not commit boots on ground.Recommend

  • Akhtar
    Mar 30, 2015 - 2:36PM

    I support that Pakistan send troops to KSA and protect the entire interest of GCC. Can Pakistan Govt. use the Saudi influence to request Kuwaiti Government to lift ban (since last seven years) on issuing work & visit visas for Pakistanis? Recommend

  • Umair Rasheed
    Mar 30, 2015 - 4:03PM

    THANKYOU BUT NO THANKYOU. We already have suffered a lot on the hand of others wars.
    We should not worry about the expats working there as saudi economy will be equally hit if they stop providing them the labour.

    And after all why should we support a foreign invasion and that too against a muslim country.
    Isnt it ironic when we say that we will not tolerate any thing against the teritorial integrity of saudia when they themselves are doing the exact opposite against a soverign country.Recommend

  • Whiskey Khan
    Mar 30, 2015 - 4:17PM

    @ Akhtar, Don’t sell your soul for a Penny!!!! It more valuable then you may think.Recommend

  • Rum Ball
    Mar 30, 2015 - 5:16PM

    Pakistan must grab this opportunity and send maybe 2 corps. Saudis pay handsome salaries to Army personnel, and this moment will ensure that Pakistan suddenly becomes a Arab country. Let the moolah flow in!Recommend

  • Neil Harris
    Mar 30, 2015 - 5:39PM

    We should have said no when we accepted $1.5 billion gift from our Saudi masters. Now they want the favor returned by asking Pakistan to sacrifice its people to protect Saudi’s.

    It seems like Money can buy you anything these days.Recommend

  • Siraj Ahmed
    Mar 30, 2015 - 5:47PM

    This is just a drama to fool people.Our troops are already sent.There is no other choice after taking $1.5billion from our Masters.Recommend

  • Pervez Saeed
    Mar 30, 2015 - 6:27PM

    These meetings, briefings and delegations are all a smoke screen. Pakistan lost its freedom to take decisions in its own interest the day it’s corrupt rulers went out to these imperialist States with begging bowl in hand.Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Mar 30, 2015 - 6:47PM

    @Kashif Siddiqui:
    @sabi:Arabs does not respect each other and fight amongst themselves Libya, Iraq , Palestine,etc. You expect they will give red carpet respect to Pakistan. If they are brave let the Monarchs, Dictators should be in fore front and face musicRecommend

  • Dexter
    Mar 30, 2015 - 7:40PM

    its very sad but we owe them its time to pay back.Recommend

  • MJ
    Mar 30, 2015 - 7:46PM

    KSA spends more money on arms than anyone else in the region. Why can’t their own troops handle a rag-tag militia. Are they all Eunuchs? Recommend

  • Muhammad Shoaib
    Mar 30, 2015 - 9:24PM

    @MAK: Very true and I agree with you that first we must put our own house in order.Recommend

  • raider
    Mar 30, 2015 - 11:16PM

    It is first time in history that democracy is on trial
    When Pakistan was at war with India in 1965 , it was a dictatorial regime reigned by Ayub khan
    When Pakistan was at war with India in 1971 it was a dictatorial regime reigned by yahya khan
    When it invaded Afghanistan by Russia there was prevailing dictatorial regime of Zia-Ul-Haq
    When Pakistan was at war with India in 1998 even restricted level, there existed a regime called as democracy, what happened in that offensive still to be investigated?(note pm strength)
    When it invaded Afghanistan by USA there was prevailing dictatorial regime of Musharraf
    It is time and again claimed by custodians of existential democracy that Musharraf embroiled Pakistan into a war that was not fait accompli.
    But loo and behold,,,,,,….. our elected pm in no time subscribed to, even without consent of any parliament or even APC, a war which is not pertinent to Pakistani territory, now would any one of you like to shed light if there would have been existed a Nawaz regime at that time when 9/11 took place, the very response of an elected pm to USA with its all might and all well-equipped allies at its disposal could have been a refusal????? hahahah, Nawaz butt you should be lucky man for having had removed before 9/11, otherwise your response could not be more at variant what Musharraf did. Thanks, ET PLZ PRINT Recommend

  • Naeem Khan
    Mar 31, 2015 - 2:52AM

    Pakistanis for sale, I remember when a Jewish lawyer in New York city said some thing like Pakistanis will sell their mothers for money, there was an up roar in Pakistan but really if one thinks about it, our elite and ruling class has sold themselves and the county to the highest bidder already. According to Saudi ambassador to US, the Saudis are not observers but participant in Pakistan’s internal affairs. Nawaz Sharif is under obligation to the Saudis for receiving hefty loans for his business ventures in Saudi Arabia but it does not mean that the nation of Pakistan is obligated in any way to the Saudis. Let us not forget that Pakistan contains the 2nd largest Shia population in the world outside Iran. Why antagonize Iran by getting involved in Yemen. It is Saudi Arabia who attacked Yemen and there is no threat to Saudi territory therefore call back the troops after the exercises. Keep out of Yemen conflict or any other Arab conflicts, they have been fighting among themselves for decades. Let them fight it out their own problems. Recommend

  • Hamdard
    Mar 31, 2015 - 1:24PM


    Wow!!! What an enlightened one you are!!!!! Tell them….tell themmmmm……you should be part of the delegation and see how they TELL THEM…..first hand!! Saudis have created business out of the religion and “intellectuals” like you still honking around…wah, wah!!Recommend

  • Hamdard
    Mar 31, 2015 - 1:27PM


    Well said!Recommend

  • Hamdard
    Mar 31, 2015 - 2:28PM

    I fully agree with what Naeem Khan has said and that maintaining peace and harmony in the country should be the priority of the government than becoming the proxies of Saudis.Recommend

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