PM, COAS head to Saudi Arabia today

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Pakistan
Thursday, 23 April 2015

In a bid to reassure Pakistan’s commitment to the defence of Saudi Arabia Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif would be leaving for Riyadh today to have meeting with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz on the recent developments in the Middle East.

To give final touches to the Pakistan line of action in the meeting with Saudi leadership, a high-level meeting was held here under the chair of prime minister on Wednesday where the whole gambit of things as well as the resolution adopted by Parliament’s Joint Session came under threadbare discussion.

The relations with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) came under strain following the passage of the resolution by Pakistan’s Parliament on April 10 calling for negotiated settlement of the Yemen dispute and playing the role of mediator to broker peace between the parties while staying neutral in the imbroglio.

Saudi leadership had indirectly conveyed their displeasure over the stand taken by the Pakistan government despite the assurance given by the Parliament’s resolution that in case of any threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the kingdom Pakistan would place all its military resources for the defence of the kingdom, a source in the ruling PML-N informed The Nation.

The meeting held under the chair of Premier Sharif welcomed the Saudi announcement of halting airstrikes in Yemen and entering the phase of political dialogue to search for negotiated settlement of the dispute.
The meeting was attended by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, SAPM Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Affairs Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

It was decided in the meeting that both prime minister and army chief would undertake a daylong visit to the kingdom to discuss the situation in Yemen with King Salman and clarify Islamabad’s position on its stand which got confused by misinterpretation of the resolution adopted by the Pakistan’s Parliament.

It was decided in the meeting that Pakistani leadership would reiterate its commitment to the defence of the kingdom and persuade the Saudi leadership to go for negotiated settlement of the dispute by engaging the rebels in meaningful dialogue.
Besides army chief, the prime minister would be accompanied by defence minister, foreign secretary and his special assistant Tariq Fatemi.

Seeing the sharp dip in the relations following the wrong inference of sidetracking of Pakistan drawn by the Saudi leadership from the Parliament’s resolution the PM had earlier sent a delegation, comprising civil and military leaders, led by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to KSA to remove the misconception.

The delegation met with Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Abdul Aziz, to reassure Islamabad’s support to the kingdom in case of any threat to it.
But Shahbaz-led delegation apparently failed in allaying the apprehensions and concerns of Saudi leadership and now the PM himself is leading a more highly-powered delegation to KSA for the purpose.

In a related development, a Pakistan Peoples Party delegation met Saudi’s embassy chargé d’affaires Jassim M Khalid on Wednesday and discussed Yemen issue and other matters.
Led by PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari the delegation included former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, former Interior Minister Rehman Malik and PPP Senator Sehr Kamran.
They informed Jassim about PPP’s intention to send a delegation to Arab countries to play a positive role to end the crisis.

The Foreign Office also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s announcement ending the kingdom-led military operation in Yemen.

“This will pave the way for a political solution of the crisis in Yemen,” Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said in a statement in Islamabad, adding that Pakistan shares Saudi Arabia’s desire for a “peaceful settlement of the crisis”.

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