In the midst of rumours that Pakistan may commit troops to Saudi Arabia for the protection of its borders, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his brief address urged for a peaceful solution to the Yemen conflict through the process of dialogue. The Prime Minister also reiterated the importance of Saudi Arabia as Pakistan’s ‘strategic ally’. In his speech the PM endorsed the Parliament’s resolution to stay ‘neutral’ in the crisis. ‘Parliament had affirmed in clear and categorical terms that any violation of territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia will not be tolerated. This is promised despite the massive commitment of our troops in Zarb-e-Azb,’ said Nawaz and added that ‘Pakistan stands shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia’. The PM also tried to diffuse the tension that has risen in the past week between Pakistan and the Gulf countries; he said ‘The frustration was due to a miscommunication in the interpretation of the stand of our Parliament. There should be no doubt about Pakistan’s policy, we do not abandon friends.’ The PM also said that speculative reporting by media on the crisis has created many misunderstandings. The decision of Parliament had not gone down well with UAE, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash warned Pakistan of ‘high costs’ for not getting involved in the conflict.
PM’s calculated statement endorsing Parliament’s consensus decision is appreciable. It also highlights Pakistan dilemma; Pakistan is walking a thin line between the pressure from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries and its own fears regarding involvement in a conflict that could have far reaching repercussions for Pakistan’s already critical internal security situation. As things stand the Government has so far dealt with this complex issue with admirable adroitness. The across the board consensus of political parties that Pakistan must remain neutral has also helped the Government in resisting the lure of joining the Saudi coalition.