PM, army chief to visit Riyadh on Thursday to discuss Yemen crisis

Published: April 22, 2015



ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be accompanied by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on his visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, it was decided at Wednesday’s high-level huddle at the PM House.

The civil-military huddle chaired by the premier was to design a framework to meet Saudi demands and clarify Pakistan’s neutral stance on Yemen.

Apart from the army chief, the prime minister will be accompanied by Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Special Assistant to the PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

During the meeting, Nawaz welcomed the Saudi announcement of halting airstrikes in Yemen and entering the phase of political dialogue.

It was decided in the meeting that the prime minister would undertake a one-day visit to the Saudi Arabia tomorrow to discuss the evolving situation in Yemen and express solidarity with the people and leadership of Saudi Arabia.

The move comes a day after the kingdom announced an end to air strikes and moves towards a ground operation. A step that sources say have put Saudi Arabia in dire need of ground troops from all its allies.

Read: Decisive Storm: Saudi-led coalition calls off Yemen operation

Earlier, confirming his trip, officials in the Prime Minister House said the premier would clarify his government’s vague policy on Saudi Arabia’s demand to send troops for the Yemen operation.

The kingdom had asked Pakistan to join the coalition with Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif claiming Riyadh had asked for Pakistani troops, warplanes and frigates to join the military coalition seeking to quash the Houthi rebellion in Yemen. However, after days of discussion, the Parliament opted to remain neutral.

Read: Saudi wish-list: Royal expectations unveiled

The civil-military huddle discussed whether Pakistan will meet Saudi Arabia’s demands of sending troops or not for Yemen operation as it enters the ground phase.

Read: Will of parliament: ‘Stay out of Yemen conflict’

Officials in the PM house  did not confirm any further details of the meeting and visit.

Just yesterday, Saudi Arabia declared an end to air strikes on Yemen, however, King Salman ordered the kingdom’s special forces National Guard to enter Yemen for ground operation.

Although Pakistan officially said that it would not jump into the Yemen fray militarily, it has not defined its support to Saudi Arabia about meeting its demands.

Read: Yemen resolution misinterpreted, Pakistan does not abandon strategic partners: PM

Further, PM Nawaz through his statement tried to clarify the unanimous stance of neutrality in a resolution of joint session of the Parliament following severe criticism from the Arab league, including UAE.

Read: Yemen conflict: Pakistan’s decision is dangerous and unexpected, says UAE foreign minister

The premier tried to distance the government from an impression of neutrality but did not succeed.

In an attempt of damage control, the federal government sent a high-powered delegation led by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia.

Upon the Punjab chief minister’s return, the country’s top civil-military leadership held a meeting stretching for hours but did not categorically state either the government will meet the kingdom’s demands or not.

Instead, the government issued a rather vague statement and focused on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution on Yemen issue.

The UN resolution placed an embargo on provision of weapons and other support to Yemen rebels. But in its statement, the government did not define the country’s support to Saudi Arabia.

Earlier today, a Foreign Office statement welcomed Saudi’s declaration of end of ait strikes.

Read: Pakistan welcomes end of Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Rex Minor
    Apr 22, 2015 - 3:14PM

    The House of Saudi Royals are not ammetures in the diplomatic world nor international alliances. They have now the first hand experience of the duplicity of the current rulers of Pakistan!
    The arabian warrior never forgets his friends and foes. It took the advice of its partner USA and deferred its areal bombardment before the European community reaction against the coalition.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • Jibran
    Apr 22, 2015 - 3:46PM

    What Yemen crisis? Isn’t it dead already? Don’t try to inject life into a few horse by making further false promises. Just concentrate oh the southern Punjab, where extremism is breeding exponentially.Recommend

  • N
    Apr 22, 2015 - 4:09PM

    It’s happy news that COAS Raheel Sharif will acompaining PM Nawaz Sharif as our political leadership lack the ability of handling such a sensitive issue our Parliament decision to stay neutral was totally against the wishes of people of Pakistan, hope COAS will not disappoint and will make the right decision for our Saudi brothers and this great country in the moment of need
    Long live Saudi Arabia
    Long live great Saudi NationRecommend

  • Rex Minor
    Apr 22, 2015 - 4:53PM

    The PM does not trust the military nor its commander in case his plane is disallowed return landing. Even the chinese will not help who are looking for ‘lebens Raum’ in Pakistan to unload their excess workers population.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Pakistani
    Apr 22, 2015 - 4:54PM

    Is Shahbaz Sharif going to China on Thursday?Recommend

  • Jibran
    Apr 22, 2015 - 8:42PM

    Long live Saudi Arabia? Wow we know where your loyalties are.
    As for the Pakistanis, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the history of mankind that was named after a family. Now go figure their mindset.Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Apr 22, 2015 - 8:51PM

    @Rex Minor: Saudis are like camels who never forgets the person who ill treated the camel. Thanks God Mr. Raheel Shareef will go with Nawaz Shareef. Nawaz Sahib and his fanily have great personal interests in Arabian Countries. They have industries, Villas and business . Mr Nawaz is a humble and meak servant of Arabs. I am sure Mr Raheel Shareef will hold Nawaz tongueRecommend

  • Javed Mirani
    Apr 23, 2015 - 1:13AM

    @Rex Minor:
    They will throw Pakistani out if they don’t meet their deman. But they will not dare to make the same request to india or Philipine for much for your muslim brotherhood.Recommend

  • Asad
    Apr 23, 2015 - 1:53AM

    “Here’s a notion: Peace in the Middle East would come about more easily if the region were governed by women.” Roger Ebert

    :) well said Recommend

  • ajeet
    Apr 23, 2015 - 1:54AM

    Satisfying the second master after a happy sendoff for the first master.Recommend

  • Asad
    Apr 23, 2015 - 2:06AM

    At no time has the world been without war. Not in seven or ten or twenty thousand years. – Aleksandr SolzhenitsynRecommend

  • Kolsat
    Apr 23, 2015 - 6:17AM

    Why are saudis planning to invade Yemen? What is in it for them? They just want to keep Iran away from them. The UN which a plaything of US will not stop it from happening. Pakistan will be foolish to go along for the ride. I hope sanity will prevail.Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2015 - 7:50AM

    The prime minister would undertake a one-day visit to the Saudi Arabia with safe gard. Sharifs brotheran must go for fighting against yemenis people to show master and slave ralationship with their lords.Recommend

    Apr 23, 2015 - 9:52AM

    People of PK need a correction and FACT CHECK:

    This should be Prime Minister Raheel Sharif and deputy Nawaz Sharif.Recommend

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