ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has assured all-out support to Saudi Arabia in the operation ‘determination storm’ reiterating that any threat to the territorial integrity of the kingdom would evoke strong response from Pakistan.
In his telephonic conversation with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Premier Sharif discussed recent developments in the region with specific reference to the escalation regarding the ongoing military operation against rebels in Yemen, reports Saudi Press Agency. However, the media section here at Prime Minister’s House was completely silent about the telephonic contact.
Reportedly the contact was made on Saturday wherein Premier Sharif extended full support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in the operation ‘determination storm’ placing “all potentials of the Pakistan Army at the disposal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. King Salman thanked the Nawaz Sharif for his feelings and stressed on the depth of relations between the two countries, the report said.
In another development Prime Minister himself talked to Pakistan Ambassador in Yemen and directed him to take all possible measures to ensure safety and security of each and every member of Pakistani community till their evacuation from the war-torn country.
Speaking at a hurriedly-convened news conference on Saturday night, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said Pakistan was ‘very much’ concerned over what is happening in Yemen which he said was posing threat to the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia.
He said Pakistan would extend all out support to Saudi Arabia including sending troops in wake of the turmoil in Yemen to protect the land of the two Holy Mosques, adding no Muslim would tolerate any aggression against kingdom housing two holiest places of Islam.
Denying media reports that Pakistan has already sent its fighter jets which are taking part in the ongoing operation in Yemen, the secretary said any decision to become part of the war will be taken after visit of Pakistan’s high level delegation to Riyadh, due in a couple of days. He further said that as per the statement of the Defence Minister in National Assembly, the parliament would also be taken into confidence on any such decision.
“The fact is that our leadership is in constant contact with the Saudi leadership and a high level delegation will be visiting Riyadh in the next 24 to 48 hours to assess the situation”, he said. He said the delegation will comprise Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, PM Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Satraj Aziz and representatives of the armed forces.
Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to the security and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia, as pledged by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Saudi King during telephonic conversation earlier in the day, he said the prime minister conveyed to the king that security and protection of the Saudi territorial integrity was very important for Pakistan and that Islamabad is ready to send its troops if the situation turns against the Saudi integrity.
But he stated that, at present, the top priority of the government is to ensure safe exit of the stranded Pakistanis from the war-torn Yemen for which the government is in contact with all the neighbouring countries of Yemen including Saudi Arabia. The foreign secretary said that a special PIA plane is ready to leave for Yemen to bring back the first batch of Pakistanis and a convoy of 600 Pakistanis was currently on their way to Hudaidah form where they will be airlifted to Pakistan.
He pointed out that since Saudi Arabia has declared a no-fly zone and Pakistan is in contact with Saudi authorities to ensure safe air route for the PIA fights. He said that Pakistan defence minister also spoke with his Saudi counterpart and urged to cooperate in evacuation of the Pakistanis. “At present we are waiting for the turmoil to subside so that we could be able to safely evacuate Pakistani people”, he said.
Mr Chaudhary said that a Pakistan Navy ship will also leave for Yemen on Sunday to take part in the evacuation operation while another ship will be leaving on Monday. Currently, there are around 3,000 Pakistanis residing in Yemen, of which around 1,000 are trying to leave the country and come back to Pakistan, he added. Aizaz Chaudhry said that Pakistan is also in contact with Oman to ensure evacuation of some Pakistanis to that country. He said that following the worsening situation in Yemen, the Pakistani embassy had already advised its citizens to think about leaving the country.