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Durrani blasts govt for not granting Saudi request

National

April 11, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: Former Information Minister Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani on Friday said the unanimous resolution adopted in the joint sitting of the Parliament indicated that the opening statement by defence minister regarding military assistance requested by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was nothing but a means to put a time-tested brotherly Islamic country in a very awkward position.
In an exclusive interview with The News/Jang, Durrani urged the government to do away with all its confusion and paralysis over military assistance to the Kingdom, saying that emergent corrective measures are needed to be taken to ensure stability and security of the Kingdom which was a time-tested friend of Pakistan and its people. “Instead of dealing with a pure diplomatic matter of highly serious nature in a meticulous, sensitive and prudent manner, it was handled in a bizarre manner that has actually damaged the foundation of decades-old bilateral relations and mutual trust,” the former minister said.
Durrani said the initial briefing made at the beginning of joint sitting by defence minister regarding the Kingdom’s request for provision of “vessels, aircraft and troops” appeared to be incomplete and misleading as it did not explain whether the troops were meant for safeguarding the Kingdom or for Yemen.
Durrani said the Kingdom has sought Pakistan’s support to safeguard its borders from militants. “But the vague statement made in the parliament by the government has badly misled the parliament as well as the people at large. I have failed to understand whether it was by design or a result of the minister’s inexperience,” Durrani said.
He said it seems that the defence minister was totally unaware of the depth of the friendly ties between the Kingdom and Pakistan or he was involved in some conspiracy against the elected government. “The misleading statement has pushed the decades-old relations between the brotherly nations into jeopardy. Due to the

immature handling of the matter, a pure diplomatic matter has turned into a ‘political gimmick’,” the former minister added.
Durrani argued that in diplomacy, countries around the globe take decisions based on their specific interests. “If the US government publicly announces to attack any country hostile against the Israel, why Pakistan is shying away from extending its support to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added.
He said it is also surprising that neither the prime minister nor the Foreign Office intervened to control the damage. “The misrepresentation of facts by the government resulted in a total confusion while the parliamentarians as well as the media were also misled over the issue,” he added.
He said the government must take into account that it was a blunder at a critical juncture when the region was facing major challenges. “Whenever Pakistan seeks assistance from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom came to its rescue. Whether it were earthquake or floods, or it was UN sanctions after 1998 nuclear tests or the time when Pakistan needed free of cost oil, the Kingdom was there. Moreover, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also gave $150 billion unconditionally to help the PML-N government repay its loans,” he added.
Durrani was of the opinion that when it came to funding the nuclear arsenal, the Kingdom also came to rescue Pakistan’s strategic programme. He said that the government should have taken into account the national interest rather than holding joint session to talk out the matter. “If we seek nuclear reactors from China who provides it to us despite international sanctions, it reflects the depth of relations between the two friendly neighbours. So is the case when Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sought Pakistan’s assistance when it faced threats to its territorial integrity,” he added.
The former minister said the political leadership failed to take into consideration the fact that the Arab region was being pushed into a civil war and this chaos may eat away all the Muslim states who are desperately seeking Pakistan’s assistance. “The Kingdom’s request reflected the unflinching trust in Pakistan by Riyadh in its difficult time and Pakistan should have also responded positively as friends do in such critical situations,” he said.
Brushing away the notion that the assistance to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may fan sectarian tensions in Pakistan or the region, Durrani said that strengthening the Saudi government in no way meant to destabilise Iran or any other states of the region.
He said some western forces were conspiring to fuel rebellion and discontent in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as Iraq, Libya and Syria have already been destabilised. “Now after destabilising Yemen, who could guarantee this destabilisation would not enter the Kingdom. The Arab League has already expressed its concerns. There are rebels taking arms in Yemen who may attack the holy places for Muslims anytime if not stopped in advance. No sect allows any attack against the holy land of Makkah or Madinah,” he added.
He said that over two million Pakistanis were employed in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and were sending billions of rupees every year to Pakistan. “Keeping in view this very issue, peace and stability in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should be a priority for Pakistan.
Why such a situation is being allowed in Gulf which may even jeopardise the performance of holy rituals for Muslims of the entire world including Hajj and Umrah,” he opined.

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