In his exclusive word with anchorperson Kashif Abbasi during ARY News program “Off the Record”, Khawaja Asif said that nearly 175000 Pakistani troops are currently engaged in fighting against terrorists in the Operation Zarb-e-Azb, however Pakistan is firm on its stance to defend the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia.
He denied the reports suggesting any troops sent to Yemen or fighter jets to pound rebels’ sanctuaries there.
Asif categorically said Pakistani troops have been deployed in different Gulf states for past 40-50 years, which include officers of the Medical Corps as well as training advisers, however not a single combat troop was sent to Yemen or Saudi Arabia in view of the current situation.
The Defense Minister said that he is due to visit Saudi Arabia tomorrow along with Sartaj Aziz, PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, for an overnight stay to discuss the Middle East situation.
He added that the national leadership will be informed about all the discussions upon his return to Pakistan and then some decision will be made.
The minister said that the decision of landing Pakistani forces into Yemen will be made after due consultation and taking the democratic institutions into confidence.
He also said that the decision will be made keeping in view the national interests and the betterment of the entire Muslim Ummah.
When asked to comment on Iran’s reaction to the development and Pakistan’s possible role in the Yemen crisis, he said that the Iranian government had summoned the Pakistani ambassador and conveyed its message, which was relayed to us and was published in newspapers as well.
However, the message by Iran included nothing specific regarding the matter, nor has Saudi Arabia so far requested Pakistan to send its forces, he added.