As the Yemeni crisis brews to a devastating extent, by the day, Saudi Arabia’s pressure on Pakistan to meet its demand for outright military support continues to increase. Saudi Arabia strongly desires that Pakistan should openly come forward and fully commit itself to support Saudi Arabia against its ongoing war in Yemen. Can Pakistan make such an outright commitment? Particularly after passing of the resolution in the Parliament, it cannot.

Undeniably, Pakistan is indeed caught in a very sticky situation. The severity of the situation can be gauged from the statement of the visiting Saudi Minister for Religious Affairs, Saleh bin Abdul Aziz, made during an interview with an eminent private Pakistani TV channel, that on the one hand there are the rebels in Yemen and on the other there is a legal government, adding that in such a situation talking about mediation tantamounts to nothing but a joke.What he plainly meant was that the Saudi government is not willing to accept any restrained commitment on its demand for military support from Pakistan. It expects Pakistan, a country for which it has always stood like a rock in its hour of need, to vociferously announce its unflinching support to Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif did make a sincere but futile attempt in his address to the representatives of Pakistan’s print and electronic media, on April 13, to clarify Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis its support to Saudi Arabia in its ongoing war in the Republic of Yemen. His efforts to convince the Saudis about Pakistan’s standpoint on the issue and its support to Saudi Arabia against its ongoing conflict in Yemen failed to achieve the desired objective. Because what he said, after a top level meeting of the civil and military leadership, was nothing different from what the joint sitting of the parliament had stated in its resolution. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in fact, only highlighted some portions of the resolution and attempted to pacify the Saudis. He did so because he thought perhaps the Saudis may not have fully understood the fundamental message of the resolution passed by both houses of Pakistan’s Parliament.

Now, the question that arises is: Are the Saudis convinced by the clarifications given by Pakistan’s Premier vis-à-vis its stand on the Yemeni issue, and Saudi Arabia’s call for outright military support to it in its war against Yemen? No, not at least when seen in the backdrop of the remarks of the visiting Saudi Minister for Religious Affairs, and also from the loud and clear signals emanating from quarters that matter in the Kingdom, that Pakistan must resolutely announce its commitment to meet Saudi demand for complete military support comprising of army, navy and air force. Nothing less than this would perhaps be acceptable to them.

What should then Pakistan do to get out of this quagmire? The options are not too many. Pakistan should make a last-ditch effort to convince those at the helm in the Saudi government that if diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue fails, and the sovereignty and sanctity of the Holy Land stands threatened, it would extend complete military support to Saudi Arabia. If the Saudis do not agree with Pakistan’s proposition of finding a diplomatic solution to the problem, Pakistan will have to seriously way the pros and cons of meeting or not meeting the demand of Saudi Arabia to send Pakistan’s army, navy and air force to the holy land, and act accordingly.

M. FAZAL ELAHI,

Islamabad, April 20.