ISLAMABAD - Saudi defence minister yesterday met with Pakistani army chief and prime minister but no public announcement was made from any quarter regarding some concrete commitment on Islamabad’s joining the Riyadh-led coalition.

Also, there was no clarity on what role, if any, Pakistan would play in the ongoing tussle between Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Islamic Republic of Iran following the execution of a Shia cleric by the kingdom and the ensuing diplomatic rupture.

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif however assured Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz that any threat to territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia “will invoke a strong response from Pakistan”, a public stance the country has adopted for quite some time in face of Saudi pressure to do its bidding in Middle East turmoil.

Pakistan holds its defence ties with Saudi Arabia in highest esteem, General Raheel told Prince Muhammad, who is also deputy crown prince besides holding the portfolio of deputy prime minister.

Reciprocating Pakistan’s good will, Saudi minister said the kingdom attaches great importance to Pakistan and its armed forces and appreciates their successes in the war against terrorism. He also reaffirmed KSA’s full support to Pakistan’s position on all matters, according to a statement issued by the ISPR.

Saudi defence minister, who straight away drove to the military GHQs, later also met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who also told him that Pakistan would always stand with the people of Saudi Arabia against any threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This is the second high-profile visit from Saudi Kingdom during last one week. Earlier, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Islamabad on Thursday for seeking Islamabad’ support in row with Tehran and commitment to join the counter-terrorism coalition. Government sources said that defence minister’s visit was an extension of the foreign minister’s visit.

Pakistan had indicated it could consider the Saudi invitation to join the 34-nation coalition, but officials in Islamabad said they have sought details on the scope and role of the coalition before formally joining it and hence no official announcement was made so far.

On the issue of KSA-Iran tension, though Islamabad had criticised Iran for reacting to Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr’s execution, Pakistan wanted to see the negotiated settlement of the dispute without becoming party to it.

PM Nawaz Sharif in his meeting with the Saudi minister said Islamabad has always expressed its readiness to offer its good offices to brotherly Muslim states for resolution of their differences through peaceful means. Pakistan has historically pursued the policy of promoting brotherhood among member states of OIC, he added.

He welcomed the kingdom’s initiative to establish a coalition of like-minded Islamic countries to counter terrorism and militancy and extended complete support to such efforts, according to a statement issued by PM’s Office, which did not say if any solid commitment was made to Riyadh.

It was agreed that both the countries would cooperate in developing an effective counter narrative to defeat the extremist mindset for which Pakistan would extend all out support - mainly its expertise in dealing with such issues.

The Deputy Crown Prince appreciated the valiant efforts waged by the security and law enforcement authorities to root out terrorism from Pakistan. He was briefed on the progress in implementing National Action Plan to eliminate extremism and terrorism.

The visit provided a welcome opportunity to both sides to reaffirm their shared resolve to deepen bilateral cooperation and work together to address the challenge of terrorism which is common enemy for both.