Pakistan silent on Saudi Arabia troop deployment

Islamabad, Pakistan Feb 23, 2018

Pakistan’s government has refused to share details on the deployment of a contingent of more than a thousand soldiers to Saudi Arabia, prompting concerns that the troops could support the kingdom’s ongoing military campaign in Yemen.

The Pakistani government and military both deny that the troops, whose deployment was announced last week, would operate outside the borders of Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, Khurram Dastgir-Khan, Pakistani defence minister, told the country’s senate that the troops would operate in a “train and advise” capacity.

“The contingent, once deputed in Saudi Arabia, will perform its training and advisory mission while remaining within the geographical boundaries of the kingdom,” he said.

The minister’s briefing to the Senate was met, however, with dissatisfaction from Raza Rabbani, the Senate chairman, who said it failed to provide basic details on the troops’ role in the Gulf kingdom.

“This is shedding no light on the decision that has been taken by the prime minister. I am sorry, but this statement is inadequate,” Rabbani said.

The new deployment would be an addition to an existing force of 1,600 troops currently stationed in Saudi Arabia, and would be governed under a 1982 agreement between the two countries on military cooperation.

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