Pakistan welcomed on Wednesday Saudi Arabia’s declaration of an end to four weeks of air strikes in Yemen.
“This will pave the way for a political solution to the crisis,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said in a statement.
“Pakistan shares the desire of Saudi Arabia for a peaceful settlement of the Yemeni crisis,” she added.
On Tuesday, the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen announced an end to air strikes saying it had eliminated the threat posed by Iran-backed rebels.
Despite the claims of success in a campaign launched by Sunni Arab nations to restore the authority of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, the capital Sanaa remains in rebel hands and fierce clashes continue in the key southern city of Aden.
The coalition said its operations have entered a political phase but left open the option of resuming strikes against the Houthi Shia militia if needed, and added that a naval and air blockade on the strategic country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula will remain in place.
Iran welcomed the decision to halt the air war, calling it a “step forward” toward resolving the conflict, while there was no immediate reaction from the Houthis.
Hadi, in a televised speech from the Saudi capital where he fled in the face of a rebel advance that triggered chaos and a humanitarian crisis in his country, promised “victory” and vowed “we will soon return to our homeland, to Aden and Sanaa”.
The Saudi defence ministry said the air strikes had managed to “successfully remove threats to Saudi Arabia’s security and that of neighbouring countries” by destroying heavy weaponry and ballistic missiles seized by the Houthis.
The kingdom had asked Pakistan to join the coalition but after days of discussion, the Parliament opted to remain neutral.
Officially, Pakistan said umpteen times that it would not jump into the Yemen fray militarily. However, any violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Saudi Arabia will evoke a strong response from Pakistan – a political euphemism for active military intervention.
Pakistan’s stance triggered the ire of United Arab Emirates’ junior foreign minister who warned Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price for its neutrality.