LONDON/Islamabad - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has categorically stated that Pakistan will stand shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia and it can remain a bystander if there was any threat to the security of brotherly Islamic country.

Talking to newsmen on his arrival in London on Friday, after a daylong visit to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Premier Sharif said Pakistan enjoyed strong ties with KSA and was keen to further cement these relations. He said if there was any threat to borders and security of the kingdom, his country would respond strongly.

The Pakistani PM on Thursday led a high-profile delegation, including army chief of the nuclear Muslim state, to Saudi Arabia to allay its concerns over Pakistani parliament’s advice to Sharif government to stay neutral in Yemen crisis and play the role of a peacemaker instead. Besides Army Chief General Raheel Shareef, the delegation included Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, , Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary and other senior civil and military officials.

Nawaz Sharif, to a question, said that during KSA visit they had an extensive talk with the Saudi leadership regarding the situation in Yemen. However, he claimed that Saudi Arabia has not given any list of demands.

To a question about the agreements signed with China, he said there would be an economic revolution in Pakistan with the multi-billion dollar Chinese investment. The premier said that investment of $46 billion was unprecedented in the history of the country, adding that the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan was delayed due to the sit-ins in the country.

The prime minister said the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor would give birth to various projects, which would not only generate employment but also change destiny of the country. He said Gwadar would come out to be an international city, where a state-of-the-art airport would be constructed to attract foreign entrepreneurs.

Prime Minister Sharif elaborated that a number of energy generating plants would also be set up as a result of the Chinese investment, which would help Pakistan overcome the power crisis. “A gas pipeline would also be laid from Gwadar to Nawabshah,” he said, adding that power projects would also be set up at Port Qasim.

He said the rate of inflation has plummeted to the lowest level in the last 13 years due to the economic policies of his government. To a query about the by-election in NA 264, Karachi, Nawaz said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) should have given a thought before jumping into such venture, adding that there are always better chances of victory for a party which has vacated a seat. “We had won the Nankana seat in by-poll as it has been vacated by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N),” he said.

According to a Foreign Office statement issued in Islamabad on Friday, Pakistan has reassured Saudi Arabia that any aggression against territorial integrity of the kingdom will evoke a strong response from it. According to FO, this reiteration came from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in series of meetings with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz and Deputy Crown Prince and Minister for Interior Prince Mohammad bin Nayef Al-Saud in Riyadh on Thursday.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made it clear to the leadership of Saudi Arabia that any aggression against territorial integrity of the Kingdom will evoke a strong response from Pakistan”, the statement said.

During the meetings, Pakistan expressed to the Saudi leadership its deep concern at the increasing threats to regional peace and stability in the Middle East and emphasised that there was a dire need to ensure that the region did not get further destabilised by terrorist groups and other non-state actors.

It was underscored that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi kingdom was a policy imperative for Pakistan, and Islamabad could not remain a bystander against efforts to destabilise Saudi Arabia. Pakistan also condemned the violent overthrow of the legitimate government of Yemen by Houthis and was deeply perturbed on external support of this process.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia agreed that this alarming and unacceptable trend will destabilise Middle East and encourage militants everywhere to challenge the state authority with violence. Both sides said it is not only the responsibility of the KSA-led coalition but of the entire international community to defeat this trend.

Pakistan extended its support to the political objectives of the Coalition led by the Saudi Arabia to restore unconditionally the legitimate Government in Yemen and withdrawal of Houthis from the territories seized by them including the capital Sana’a.

It Pakistan expressed its willingness to play a positive role in promoting a peaceful resolution of the ongoing political crisis in Yemen and render its support for implementation of UN Resolution 2216. It also offered to cooperate in delivering humanitarian assistance to the people of Yemen.

Besides people to people, economic and political relationship, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have a robust and multifaceted defence relationship in line with the aspirations of both the peoples. Pakistan and KSA Arabia agreed to further expand the existing defence, security and intelligence cooperation.

Both sides reiterated their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirmed their desire to strengthen cooperation on this issue. The Saudi side acknowledged tremendous sacrifices made by Pakistan in combating terrorism.

King Salman and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed satisfaction at the discussions held during their meeting and reiterated their commitment to further enhance bilateral relations. Nawaz Sharif reiterated his invitation to the king to visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif also held an extensive meeting with the Saudi defence minister and senior defence ministry officials. Later a meeting was also held between PM Sharif and Yemeni President Mansoor al-Hadi.