SPECIAL SESSION OF PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE YEMEN SITUATION ADJOURNED TILL TUESDAY
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is set to fulfill Saudi Arabia’s request for military assistance in its offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen within next week, according to The Express Tribune.
The top civil and military leadership met to discuss the Yemen situation during an adjournment in a joint session of Parliament held on Monday to discuss the same issue.
“The current week is important for Pakistan to prepare and meet Saudi Arabia’s demands,” the sources said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired the meeting, which was also attended by army chief general Raheel Sharif among others.
According to sources, the government will fulfill all requirements of Saudi Arabia in letter and spirit within a week.
Further, sources claimed the top civil and military leadership expressed their satisfaction over Defense Minister Khawaja Asif’s statement on the Yemen situation, which he read at the joint session of Parliament earlier Monday.
The defense minister had stated that Saudi Arabia has asked Pakistan for military aircraft, warships and soldiers.
“Saudi Arabia has asked for combat planes, warships and soldiers,” Asif, who also visited Turkey to discuss Yemen, said, without specifying where Saudi wanted them deployed.
Asif read his written statement, introducing a motion on the Yemen conflict and whether to join Saudi forces bombing the war-hit country.
“It is important to ensure unity among Muslim countries; PM Nawaz is working to make a peaceful solution to this crisis possible,” the defense minister added.
The federal minister said leaders of Pakistan and Turkey have same stance on the Yemen issue – standing by Saudi Arabia.
“There is a need to find a peaceful situation to maintain unity among Muslim countries; all decisions taken by the government will reflect the aspirations of the people of Pakistan,” he added.
The top civil and military brass upheld that Asif’s statement indirectly conveyed its message to Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“The government’s statements were drafted after a consensus and with support from the General Headquarters (GHQ),” the sources asserted.
Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, PM’s senior aide Sartaj Aziz, Army chief General Raheel Sharif, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, chief of Naval Staff Air Marshal Sohail Aman, and the foreign Secretary are in attendance.
A joint session of the two houses of Parliament considered on Monday whether Pakistan should join the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen to quell the Houthis rebellion against President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
On March 26, the Saudis launched an air campaign in Yemen leading to a sharp escalation in the country’s violence.
The federal government had since then made efforts to evacuate hundreds of stranded nationals from the war-torn Yemen on the orders of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The focal issue of Pakistan’s role in the Yemen conflict took a momentary backseat as disgruntled lawmakers noisily protested first the prime minister’s absence and later the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s presence in Parliament at a joint session held Monday.
The subject of Pakistan’s response to Saudi Arabia’s request for assistance was broached after fits and starts, as rowdy lawmakers were chastised by the National Assembly speaker and prominent opposition lawmakers.
The opposition raised important questions on the subject of Pakistan’s role in the escalating discord in the Middle East. PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan took the lead in asking the government to clarify what it means by its assertion that Pakistan will support the kingdom if there is “a threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity”.
“We are here to give you the mandate,” Ahsan said as the session resumed after adjournment. “But for that we need to be told clearly what exactly your stance is. Only then we will lend you the mandate you are seeking.”–The Express Tribune, Dawn