Pak­istan par­lia­ment re­jects Saudi call to join Ye­men coali­tion

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY KHUR­RAM SHAHZAD

Pak­istan’s par­lia­ment on Fri­day voted to stay out of the con­flict in Ye­men, re­ject­ing Saudi de­mands for Islamabad to join its mil­i­tary coali­tion against Shi­ite Huthi rebels.

A unan­i­mous res­o­lu­tion passed by a spe­cial ses­sion of par­lia­ment backed the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to pro­tect Saudi Ara­bia’s ter­ri­tory, which has so far not been threat­ened by the con­flict.

But it said Pak­istan should play a me­di­at­ing role and not get in­volved in fight­ing in Ye­men — turn­ing down long­stand­ing ally Riyadh’s re­quest for troops, ships and war­planes.

“Par­lia­ment of Pak­istan ... un­der­scores the need for con­tin­ued ef­forts by the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan to find a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of the cri­sis,” the res­o­lu­tion said.

“(Par­lia­ment) de­sires that Paki- stan should main­tain neu­tral­ity in the Ye­men con­flict so as to be able to play a proac­tive diplo­matic role to end the cri­sis.”

The mo­tion is not bind­ing, but Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif said last week that any Pak­istani par­tic­i­pa­tion would need the back­ing of par­lia­ment.

It was passed af­ter five days of de­bate on the Ye­men cri­sis, in which many law­mak­ers urged Sharif not to send Pak­istani forces to join the fight.

The coali­tion of largely Sunni Mus­lim coun­tries led by Riyadh has been hit­ting Huthi Shi­ite rebels in Ye­men with air strikes in a bid to re­store the gov­ern­ment of fugi­tive Pres­i­dent Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi.

Saudi Ara­bia has vowed to bomb the rebels, who it says are backed by Tehran, into sur­ren­der to pre­vent them es­tab­lish­ing a pro-Iran state on its doorstep.

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