Yemen campaign: Envoy voices Saudi frustration over Pakistan’s nay

Says how Islamabad will feel if Riyadh does the same in crisis


Kamran Yousaf April 30, 2015
Says how Islamabad will feel if Riyadh does the same in crisis. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:


Saudi Arabia seems to be still struggling to come to terms with Pakistan’s decision against joining a nine-nation military coalition Riyadh has cobbled together to quash the Houthi insurrection at its doorstep.


In an informal chat with The Express Tribune on Wednesday, Acting Saudi Ambassador in Islamabad Jassim Bin Mohammad al Khalidi could not hide his frustration over Pakistan’s decision. “How Pakistan will feel if we do the same to you in a crisis,” he said when asked if his country was disappointed with Pakistani parliament’s decision to stay away from the crisis in the Arabian Peninsula.



The Saudis had requested Pakistani troops, ships and warplanes join the military campaign against the Yemeni rebels. However, the Pakistani parliament passed a unanimous resolution against jumping into the fray militarily.

This is the first time a Saudi official has publicly voiced his displeasure over Pakistan’s reluctance to join the military coalition against the Houthis. Ambassador Jassim, however, said Riyadh still wanted Islamabad to join the coalition, even if it is for reconstruction and humanitarian work in Yemen.

He said Pakistan’s support was crucial to sending a message to the people of Yemen that not only the Arab countries but also the rest of the Muslim world was showing solidarity with their legitimate government.

The Saudi-led coalition had called off the Operation Decisive Storm, a campaign of air strikes against Houthi rebels, on April 21 on a request of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi claiming that all the objectives had been achieved. However, sporadic air raids continue despite the announcement.



Ambassador Jassim ruled out a ground offensive in Yemen. “The situation in Yemen is now under control and most of the objectives have been achieved,” he added.

This means Islamabad will now be under less pressure and appears to have played its cards well by staying away from the conflict while at the same time offering support in the event of violation of Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

But diplomatic sources say Pakistan needs to do more to appease Riyadh as the kingdom feels let down by Islamabad.

Sources revealed that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who led a high-level delegation soon after parliament’s nay to Riyadh’s request, was confronted by Saudi authorities over Pakistan’s reluctance to join the coalition. The Saudis told the younger Sharif that they were not expecting Pakistan to take the issue to its parliament as they had needed ‘urgent’ help from Islamabad.

The growing unease in Riyadh had prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to lead a powerful delegation comprising army chief General Raheel Sharif to Riyadh as part of a damage control exercise. In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, the prime minister described his Saudi visit to as a success. He said he had discussed in detail the Yemen conflict with King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The premier reiterated Pakistan’s stance defending Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity at all cost. However, Pakistan stuck to its earlier decision of not getting embroiled in the conflict militarily.


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

COMMENTS (3)

Sane Khan | 6 years ago | Reply Send this Jassim guy to exile in KSA.
Maqsood Kayani | 6 years ago | Reply Any other country would have sent Ambassador Jassim home and recalled it's Ambassador from Saudi for 'gross interference in other country's policies'. As for "How Pakistan will feel if we do the same to you in a crisis", Saudi Arabia has already done so - they have never openly supported Pakistan in it's 3 wars against India nor openly supported Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
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