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Threat to Saudi Arabia to evoke strong response from Pakistan: PM

He was chairing a high-level meeting to discuss recent developments in the Middle East.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif; Advisor on National Security Sartaj Aziz; Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan enjoys close and brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia as well as other Gulf Cooperation Council states, and attaches great importance to their security.

The meeting decided that a delegation comprising Defence Minister and Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security will visit Saudi Arabia tomorrow to assess the situation. Senior representatives from the armed forces will also accompany the delegation.

AFP adds: The Gulf kingdom has begun air strikes against Shiite Huthi rebels and the Saudi ambassador in Washington said a coalition of 10 countries, including Pakistan, was being formed to protect the Yemeni government.

The rebels and their allies had been closing in on main southern city Aden, where President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has been holed up since fleeing the rebel-controlled capital Sanaa last month.

Their advance raised Saudi fears that the Shiite minority rebels would seize control of the whole of its Sunni-majority neighbour and take it into the orbit of Shiite Iran.

Yemen is teetering on the brink of civil war as turmoil has grown since Huthis launched a power grab in February.

Islamabad has longstanding close ties to Saudi Arabia, and foreign office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said the kingdom had asked Pakistan to join the coalition.

“I can confirm we have been contacted by Saudi Arabia in this regard. The matter is being examined. That’s all I have to say at the moment,” she told a regular press briefing.

Aslam said no decision had been taken yet on whether to close the Pakistani embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

The official Saudi Press Agency said earlier that Pakistan, along with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan, had all “expressed desire to participate in the operation”.

Egypt and Jordan have confirmed they will join Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the coalition.

However, joining the coalition might irk Pakistan’s minority Shiite community and neighbour Iran.

Pakistan has suffered a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent years, most of it perpetrated by hardline Sunni Muslim groups against minority Shiite Muslims, who make up around one in five of the population.



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