Pakistan adopts resolution urging neutrality in Yemen crisis

2015-04-10 14:10
Pakistani activists from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa political organisation take part in a rally in support of the government of Saudi Arabia regarding the situation in Yemen near the presidency in Islamabad on April 9 2015. (Farooq Naeem, AFP)

Pakistani activists from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa political organisation take part in a rally in support of the government of Saudi Arabia regarding the situation in Yemen near the presidency in Islamabad on April 9 2015. (Farooq Naeem, AFP)

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Islamabad - Pakistan's parliament adopted a resolution on Yemen on Friday urging Pakistan to stay neutral in the conflict, as expected, expressing support for Saudi Arabia and calling on all factions to resolve their differences peacefully.

Pakistani members of parliament have spoken out against becoming militarily involved in Yemen all week. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half its history, has said it will respect the civilian government's decision.

Sunni Saudi Arabia had asked its staunch ally, Sunni-majority Pakistan, to join the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and had requested warships, warplanes and troops.

"The parliament of Pakistan expresses serious concern on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Yemen and its implications for peace and stability of the region," the resolution said.

"...[It] desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis. [It] expresses unequivocal support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly said he will defend any threat to Saudi Arabia's "territorial integrity" without defining what threat that could be, or what action he would take.

Shi'ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are rivals for power in the Middle East and many in Pakistan fear being caught between them if Pakistani troops are sent to Yemen.

Last month, a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes in Yemen against Iranian-allied Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia and Yemen share a border and Saudi Arabia says it is afraid that instability might spill over to its territory.

Pakistan's parliament began debating the request on Monday and no legislator spoke in support of sending troops for Saudi to use in Yemen.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wound up a two-day trip to Pakistan on Thursday in which he urged Pakistan to reject the Saudi request.

Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif had publicly remained silent on the request. Army officials have said they will defer to the civilian government.

Saudi Arabia's request had put Pakistan in a tight spot. The nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people has strong economic, religious and military ties to Saudi Arabia but also a long and porous border with Iran in a mineral-rich region plagued by a separatist insurgency.

Read more on:    pakistan  |  yemen

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