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March 30, 2015

Sending troops to Saudi Arabia not approved, says Sethi

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March 30, 2015

LAHORE: Pakistan’s military leadership doesn’t want to be dragged into the Saudi or any international dispute, said Najam Sethi in Geo News programme ‘Aapas ki Baat’. He added the impression that Pakistan had approved sending the troops to Saudi Arabia was wrong.
He said Saudi Arabia through media, including that of the US, was pressing Pakistan by wrongly suggesting that Islamabad agreed to contribute troops and, perhaps, had already sent some of them.The Pakistan army was of the opinion that the country was dealing with the Indian threat and the war against terrorism simultaneously, thus making it impossible to send troops to the kingdom, Sethi added.
Expressing his views on Sunday, he said Pakistan could not openly refuse to Saudi Arabia, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military establishment had close ties with the kingdom.According to Sethi, the prime minister cannot refuse the Saudi request and the required military personnel are also not available for that purpose. In case, the Saudis give an ultimatum, he would consult the Parliament and opt to an APC for gaining more time. Not all the political and religious parties are in favour of dispatching troops to Saudi Arabia - a move which the government cannot agree to without a consensus.
He said Riyadh had always sought help from Islamabad whenever there was any security problem and the demand was again being repeated. He cited the examples of sending troops on Saudi demand amid the threat by Saddam in 1991 and that of Zia who had bombed Palestinians during his deputation in Jordan as brigadier. The Palestinians had not forgotten Zia’s action, he added.
Sethi said Pakistan had also been previously interfering in Afghanistan and Kashmir whose reaction in the shape of Kalashnikov culture, extremism and sectarian was destroying the country’s society. The foreign policy had created threats to the country on several occasions, he said, adding that the foreign policy of the three

generals damaged Pakistan.
According to Sethi, Saudi Arabia is afraid of Shia Iran which is currently supporting Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. In this scenario, Riyadh is feeling being encircled by the Shia Islam. Saudi Arabia had always considered itself an ally of the US which is now going to strike a deal with Iran on the nuclear issue. And therefore, the US stance on Iran isn’t like the past or that of Saudi Arabia.
Despite severe pressure by Saudis and Israel, the US doesn’t want to bomb the Iranian atomic facilities because that would unite the Muslim world, while forgetting the Shia-Sunni differences. Hence, Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes on Yemen are meant to pressurise the US and show its power in the region.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is also nervous because of the internal threats, as the brand of Islam that it had exported is now a threat to the Kingdom itself in the shape of Al-Qaeda and Isis. In fact, Isis’ interpretation of religion is more extremism-based than that of Saudis. Also, 40 per cent of the Saudi armed forces personnel are of Yemeni origin and that’s why Riyadh looks towards Pakistan for the army.
Sethi said the MQM claimed that they had no relation with Saulat Mirza. But the MQM had a long relationship with Saulat and had also tried to expel him from the party; however, the MQM was trying to distance itself amid the situation developing after the confessional statement of Saulat, he added.
He revealed that in 2007, the then attorney general Malik Qayyum had met Altaf Hussain in London, where the MQM chief had asked him to urge Pervez Musharraf to convert Saulat’s death sentence to life imprisonment, but that didn’t happen.
About the ICC Cricket World Cup, he said the Aussies were the favourites to grab the trophy. The event had produce two stars - Wahab Riaz and Sarfaraz Ahmed - for Pakistan, while Waqar Younas had been able to tune the pace bowlers; however, the batting line up didn’t perform and needed attention, he added.