Islamabad - Imam-e-Ka’aba Sheikh Khalid Al Ghamidi has quietly been able to downplay the Pakistani parliament’s decision to stay neutral on the Saudi Arabia-Yemen conflict, as the decision-makers feel Riyadh’s demand to “do more” has to be ultimately accepted, official sources confided.

“The visit (of Imam-e-Ka’aba) has pushed us further against the Houthis. A declaration of war against the rebels (together with the Saudis) is possible sooner than later,” a highly-placed source told The Nation. “As a matter of fact we were already far from neutral.”

“The meeting of Imam-e-Ka’aba with Shahbaz Sharif (Punjab Chief Minister) was very important one. The Imam-e-Ka’aba had a very special message for the Pakistan government which prompted the rulers to assure the Saudis of all support,” the source added.

Another well-placed source said, “The ruling party will now convince others (main parties) why it is important for Pakistan to practically join the Saudis. The campaign may take a few days. The Imam-e-Ka’aba met various leaders to tone down their stance against joining the Saudi coalition. He has done some and the rest should be completed by the rulers.”

“The PM (Nawaz Sharif) had invited Saudi King (Salman Bin Abdul Aziz) to Pakistan for the same reason as it is not easy for any Pakistani politician to say ‘no’ to him. If needed he (the king) may also come but the feeling is that the job is done,” the source said.

“The message carried by Imam-e-Ka’aba does not leave room for ‘no’. So the government has this job of convincing all parties or taking a policy decision themselves,” the source said.

On Wednesday, the revered prayer leader at Islam’s holiest site in Saudi Arabia, said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are brotherly countries and no one can harm the bilateral relationship.

Addressing a joint news conference with Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Muhammad Yousaf in Islamabad, the visiting cleric said friendly relations between the two countries “are getting stronger” with every passing day.

Sheikh Ghamidi claimed that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was “not ordinary” which meant Islamabad is morally bound not to play neutral when it comes to Riyadh.

“Our relations are not ordinary. We are tied in some special bonds. During my visit, I felt that every Pakistani starting from the President to an ordinary citizen was standing with Saudi Arabia,” the cleric said.

He added, “The propaganda of our rivals is to dent our relations. Pakistanis must know that they have to fail the designs of the propagandists. Our ties are based on pure Islamic principles.”

The Imam-e-Ka’aba justified the strikes against Houthis saying it was requested by the legitimate Yemeni President. “The action was against rebels as they threatened the whole region,” remarked the cleric.

Sheikh Ghamidi maintained that after killing innocent people and razing mosques in Yemen, the rebels expressed their nefarious designs to occupy and destroy the two Holy Mosques.

“The whole world has supported the stand of Saudi Arabia. The United Nations Security Council also passed a resolution backing our stance. Saudi Arabia would come to the support of Muslims wherever they face oppression across the world,” the top Saudi cleric said.

“I cannot express in words, the love and affection which I got here and I am deeply impressed by the respect which the people of Pakistan have for Harmain Sharifain (the two holy mosques),” he said, ostensibly trying to garner public support from Pakistan to ‘defend’ the sacred sites.

Earlier, the Imam-e-Ka’aba had openly declared that the Pakistani decision on Yemen crisis, stated by the National Assembly, seed to be against the will of Pakistani people.

The revered cleric said he was sensing a difference between the opinion of the Pakistani nation and the parliament.

President Mamnoon Hussain also told Imam-e-Ka’aba that “Pakistan stands with Saudi Arabia” and is “committed to the defence of the holy sites”.

During the Monday’s meeting, the Imam-e-Ka’aba said he was convinced that Pakistan would not back down if bad times fall on Saudi Arabia.

“President Mamnoon Hussain must have consulted Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) before making this statement so there is hardly any doubt where we are going”, a close aide of the ruling elite said.

Analysts believe the Imam-e-Ka’aba has made a convincing moral case for war on Houthis during his meetings with top clerics and politicians.

“Now the King (Salman Bin Abdul Aziz) only has to declare that the holy sites are in danger and we will be there,” one observer said.

The writer is a freelance contributor