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Saudi Arabia a strategic partner, Pakistan stands by Riyadh: Nawaz

Condemns Houthis as non-state actors; seeks Iran’s role in bringing them to table; says parliamentary resolution reflects govt’s policy; Islamabad doesn’t leave friends and strategic partners in the lurch; GCC frustration is due to misinterpretation of resolution

By our correspondents
April 14, 2015
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner and Pakistan stands by it in its hour of need. Pakistan, he said, does not abandon its friends and strategic partners.
The prime minister said this in a special address to the nation here on Monday. He condemned the Houthi rebels as non-state actors and called upon the Iranian leadership to play its role in bringing the Houthi rebels to the negotiation table.
He said that the parliamentary resolution on the Yemen crisis was in line with the government’s policy on the issue.He reiterated the need for a peaceful solution to the Yemen crisis through dialogue with the warring factions.
Terming Saudi Arabia a strategic ally, he assured the world that Pakistan stood shoulder to shoulder with the Kingdom. “We want to assure the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that their frustration was due to a miscommunication in the interpretation of the stand of our parliament. There should be no doubt about our policy that Pakistan does not abandon friends and strategic partners especially at a time when their security is under threat,” Prime Minister Nawaz said.
He said that Pakistan firmly believed that President Mansur Hadi’s government would be important to maintain peace and stability in Yemen. The prime minister reaffirmed that Pakistan’s long-term commitment to Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability was the main pillar of the country’s foreign policy. Referring to the principles on which Pakistan’s policy is based, he said Saudi Arabia was one of the most important strategic allies of Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan attached great importance to the sanctity of the two holy mosques (Harmain Sharifain) and extended full support to their custodian. The prime minister said that Pakistan had conveyed its firm assurance to Saudi brothers that it would stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Pakistan strongly condemned the actions of the

Houthi rebels and other non-state actors in overthrowing the legitimate government of Yemen and expressed serious concern over the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation. “There is an urgency for finding a peaceful solution to the crisis through dialogue among the warring factions,” the primepassed by the Parliament on April 10 fully endorsed these principles and strengthened the hands to the government for playing a positive and constructive role. The resolution had affirmed in clear and categorical terms that any violation of the Saudi territorial sovereignty or threat to the two holy mosques would evoke a strong response from Pakistan.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that these assurances had been given despite massive commitments of the armed forces in the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb. “Hundreds of our brave soldiers and security personnel have laid down their lives in the war against terror,” he said and added that Pakistan had already intensified contacts with Saudi Arabia to monitor the ground situation and possible threats to the security and territorial integrity of the Kingdom. “We believe that restoration of President Hadi’s government will be an important step forward towards establishing peace in Yemen,” the prime minister said and added that he conveyed to the Iranian foreign minister during his recent visit to Pakistan that violent overthrow of legitimate government of Yemen had set a dangerous precedent that was fraught with serious risks for the entire region.
Premier Nawaz Sharif said he urged that Iran should use its influence to bring Houthi rebels to the negotiating table. He said that Pakistan was also in touch with other countries of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to assure them that their disappointment was based on apparent misinterpretation of parliamentary resolution. The prime minister said his government continued to follow the policy of fortifying and strengthening bonds of friendship with GCC countries. There should not be any doubt about Pakistan’s policy of solidarity with GCC states. He said some media reports were speculative and tended to create misunderstanding between Pakistan and its Arab brothers. He said that Pakistan had not responded to speculations because it believed that public comments would be counter-productive.
The prime minister announced that Pakistan would intensify its diplomatic efforts in coming days in consultation with leadership of Saudi Arabia to resolve Yemeni crisis.Earlier, the prime minister chaired a high level consultative meeting on Yemen situation. The statement was read out in the guestroom of the PM House where Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to PM on National Affairs Professor Irfan Siddiqui and Special Assistant to the PM on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, were standing behind the premier.
Earlier prime minister had extensive consultative meeting with the senior officials concerned including Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, Secretary to PM Javaid Aslam, Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the GHQ Lieutenant General Ishfaq Nadeem, DG ISPR Major General Asim Saleem Bajwah and DGMO Major General Aamer Riaz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.