By refusing to play the frontline role in the Saudi led coalition’s land offensive and by dismissing the ‘boots on ground’ scenario in Yemen, Pakistan acted as expected of a responsible nuclear power. It played the role of a fire extinguisher instead of adding fuel to the fire.

By keeping its distance from the war, Pakistan in fact prevented the escalation of the Yemen crisis into a full blown, protracted regional conflict with dangerous ramifications for the security and integrity of Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries. It had the potential of destabilizing Pakistan as well.

The parliamentary resolution embodied the collective will and popular sentiments of the Pakistani nation. This was evident from Clause 8 of the historic document which desired that Pakistan maintain neutrality so as to play a proactive, diplomatic role to end the crisis.

Even otherwise, after our own bitter experiences of the past in the last three decades related to the Afghan jihad and the unending US war on terror, certain principles of statecraft and lessons of history seem to be getting firmly embedded in our nation’s psyche.

Pakistanis firmly now believe that their country should never fight or get involved in someone else’s war. We have suffered and continue to pay a heavy price for such wars . As we continue to fight our own decisive war against anti state militant groups, it would be a blunder to shift focus and that too, on foreign soil in Yemen, an impoverished Muslim country with which Pakistan has no enmity.

The Punjab Chief minister Shahbaz Sharif ‘s damage control mission to Riyadh to clear Saudi misunderstandings created by the resolution did not yield desired results. The Saudi leadership did not, and will not comprehend Pakistan’s limitations and sensitivities.

Prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s air dash to Riyadh duly accompanied by Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif would help to remove any misperceptions and assure the Saudi royal family of Pakistan’s traditional support to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi leadership should appreciate Pakistan’s role in unifying the Muslim world; our adopted course of diplomacy and dialogue is best suited to long term security interests.

Pakistan needs to upgrade its present level of diplomatic and political engagements with Iran to diffuse the Yemen crisis and strive to remove the strains between Saudi Arabia and Iran. While the Iranian Foreign minister visited Islamabad and met the top civil and Army leadership, the Prime Minister along with the Army Chief must visit Tehran to engage the supreme Iranian leadership towards this end.

Certain religious forces within the country that continue to campaign for the dispatch of Pakistan army’s contingents to Saudi Arabia may be protecting their own financial interests, and surely not our national interests. They forget Clause 10 of the resolution, which clearly states that in case of any violation of the kingdom’s territorial integrity or any threat to Haramain Sharifain, Pakistan will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Saudi brothers. Such elements driven by religious emotions fail to understand that presently there is neither any threat to Saudi Arabia’s security nor to the Holy Haramain Sharifain.

There exists confusion whether the Saudi led coalition’s air campaign under Operation Decisive Storm has really ended after reportedly achieving its military goals in Yemen. But the resumption of airstrikes and mobilization of Saudi Arabia’s elitist National Guard, the kingdom’s best trained and equipped military force under direct command of the King, to join any Yemen offensive would endanger diplomatic efforts by Pakistan, Turkey and other Muslim countries for a peaceful political resolution of the crisis.

Operation Decisive Storm did achieve its few strategic objectives: Yemen’s tight air and sea blockade; destroying weapons/ammunition depots; missile sites and rebels’ command and control centers. An early transition from Decisive Storm to Operation Renewal of Hope is necessary to ensure massive UN sponsored humanitarian assistance that lays the ground for political negotiations between the warring Iran supported pro Saleh forces/ Houthi rebels and Saudi backed Hadi forces.

While around one thousand Pakistani military personnel including advisors/ trainers are already stationed in Saudi Arabia under routine defence cooperation protocol between the two countries, the Pakistan Navy should contribute towards the Yemen naval blockade to block any reinforcements of weapons and equipment for Houthi rebels from the sea by Iran or any other country. This will be in line with UN Security Council Resolutions that place an embargo on any outside arms shipment to the Houthis.

As a major contributor to UN peacekeeping efforts around the globe, Pakistan should be ready to join any UN or UN backed Islamic peacekeeping force to restore peace and order in Yemen as well as provide humanitarian aid and medical supplies. This neutral force should assist in the country’s reconstruction efforts and return to legitimate civilian rule in the near future.

It is time the Islamic world countered the conspiracy by certain western powers to destabilize , weaken and destroy Muslim countries through civil/sectarian strife, economic sanctions and military invasions. Libya, Iraq and Syria are perfect examples in this respect. Their well trained armed forces were broken up, their strategic weapons assets neutralized/ taken over and the economic infrastructure destroyed.

This could be the last chance for the 57 member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (formerly Organization of Islamic Conference) which is mandated to protect and safeguard the unity and interests of the Muslim Ummah, to prove that it is not an impotent and useless organization. It must play its due role or be ready to be declared dead and buried forever.