ISLAMABAD: The Senate was informed on Monday that Pakistani troops being dispatched to Saudi Arabia are only meant for imparting training to Saudi security personnel instead of entangling in Yemen war.
Giving a policy statement in the House, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir said that currently around sixteen hundred Pakistani troops are on deputation in Saudi Arabia.
He said the prime minister has approved deputing additional Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia for training and advisory purposes. He said that the assistance being rendered o Saudi Arabia is a continuation of the on-going support and within the confines of joint parliamentary resolution of April 2015.
Khurram Dastgir said that the planned training and advisory contingent has yet not been dispatched to Saudi Arabia. He said that the contingent will have strength of over one thousand troops of all ranks and will be dispatched shortly.
He said contingent deputed in Saudi Arabia will perform its training and advisory mission while remaining within the geographical boundaries of the Kingdom.
He said training of Saudi forces is governed by 1982 bilateral protocol regarding the deputation of Pakistan’s Armed Forces’ personnel. He said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also hold joint defence exercises regularly.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani had asked the federal minister to clarify the matter and answer concerns of the Senators with regard to dispatching the troops to Saudi Arabia. Responding to the briefing, the chairman complained that the briefing was incomplete.
On the other hand, opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan said that he was not opposing military relations with Saudi Arabia but have the ministry contemplated the influence the action would have on neighbouring states.
Ahsan said that the government of Saudi Arabia holds strong stance towards Iran and the action could cause tensions between Pakistan and Iran. Ahsan rhetorically questioned if Pakistan was falling into a trap. NNI/INP