The government’s attempt at being diplomatic in the awkward situation it found itself in regarding Yemen, left the nation wildly speculating the outcome for the better part of the past week. It has now inserted a measure of certainty into the proceedings – the decision to intervene might still go either way, but the government has at least elected to utilise the right decision-making body, and has taken up a more circumspect and principled stance over the Yemen conflict.

After consulting with the returning delegation from Riyadh, the Prime Minister has asked President Mamnoon Hussain to convene a joint session of the Parliament on April 6 to discuss the Middle East’s situation in detail; deferring any decision till then. This is greatly reassuring, any action that commits a country to a foreign war – or any other decision of national importance for that matter – must be made with the consensus of the Parliament. The government can still use its numerical advantage in the National Assembly to tilt the debate in its favour if it wishes to, but at least the final result would have been achieved through the exercise of parliamentary debate. In Pakistan’s nascent democratic process, often beset by individual prerogative and dictatorial intrusions, even such small victories are to be celebrated.

But recent governmental statements have shown a retreat from the gung ho proclamations of the past, which perhaps indicate that the government has heeded public opinion, and seek a more limited role in the conflict – limited to protecting Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity. More importantly, the government has stressed the importance of a negotiated solution by calling for the OIC and the UN to mediate the conflict between the parties which remains the most feasible method of achieving peace, since the Yemen conflict is essentially a power sharing disagreement between two groups. Despite such diplomatically correct statements, the government has clearly chosen a side – as it inevitably had to – by condemning the actions by “non-state actors” in Yemen to overthrow a legitimate government.