ISLAMABAD - In a bid to evolve national consensus on the country’s role in the Middle East crisis and on sending troops to Saudi Arabia, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government has decided to summon a joint session of the Parliament on Monday (April 6).

The decision on taking the issue to Parliament was made at a high-level meeting at the Prime Minister’s House on Thursday in which the precarious situation of Yemen, the Pakistanis stranded in the restive country and the role of Pakistan in the whole affair came under threadbare discussion.

The meeting reaffirmed that Pakistan’s national interests would remain the guiding principle of the country’s policy, besides keeping in view the close historical cultural and religious affinities between the peoples of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It was reaffirmed that any damage to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan. “Our authorities concerned will stay engaged with their Saudi counterparts in this regard,” the meeting decided.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Adviser to PM Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to PM Tariq Fatemi, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Acting Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Khan Hasham bin Siddique, the foreign secretary and other senior officers.

The meeting also condemned the actions by non-state actors in Yemen to overthrow a legitimate government and called upon the warring factions to resolve all issues peacefully through dialogue.

The meeting was briefed by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz about their recent visit to Saudi Arabia and interaction with the Saudi leaders. They informed the participants of their assessment about the level of threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Kingdom from the Yemen imbroglio. The high-level delegation returned from Saudi Arabia on late Wednesday night.

All aspects of Pakistan’s role in the Middle East crisis came under discussion, especially in the backdrop of the criticism coming from the political parties of the country opposing Pakistan Army’s joining the coalition army of Arab states engaged in direct action against the rebels in Yemen.

Sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting informed The Nation that it was the consensus view of the participants of the meeting that before taking any final decision, the government must take all the main political stakeholders into confidence.

The sources further said the participants of the meeting appreciated the move of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to engage the heads of brotherly Islamic states while trying to resolve the crisis and hoped the daylong visit of Premier Sharif to Turkey would yield positive results.

The Foreign Ministry said late Thursday PM Nawaz Sharif would visit Turkey on Friday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “exchange views on the situation relating to Yemen”.

“They will also discuss how the two countries can be helpful in addressing the issue,” it said in a statement.

It was the consensus view of the participants of the Thursday’s Islamabad meeting that keeping in view the long-lasting fraternal relations with Saudi Arabia any threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity would invoke strong and prompt response from Islamabad and that all potentials of Pakistan’s military would be made available to defend the Kingdom.

The sources further said at Monday’s joint session of the Parliament, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif would brief the parliamentarians on the current issues pertaining to the Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen and Pakistan’s involvement.

Meanwhile, according to a press release issued by the prime minister’s media section, Nawaz Sharif was updated at the meeting on the evacuation of stranded Pakistanis from Yemen.

The prime minister who is constantly keeping himself updated on the matter commended the efforts being made for bringing Pakistanis back. He directed the authorities concerned to continue their efforts till the evacuation of all Pakistanis stranded in Yemen. The prime minister also underlined the need for peacefully resolving the crisis and promoting the unity of the Muslim Ummah.

The prime minister said all the decisions on the matter would be taken in accordance with the wishes of the people of Pakistan. And it’s for this purpose, the prime minister advised the President to convene a joint session of the Parliament on Monday (April 6) to discuss this matter of national importance.