Pakistan has told Saudi Arabia it will not take sides in the brewing diplomatic crises in the Middle East after Riyadh asked Islamabad “ Are you with us or with Qatar.”
The Saudi demand for Pakistan to take a clear position on Qatar during a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, the paper said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was also accompanied by army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other senior officials, dashed to Jeddah on Monday to discuss the emerging situation in the Arab world.
Pakistan has been treading a careful path since Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries snapped diplomatic ties with Qatar after accusing the Oil-rich country of supporting terrorist groups. But now Riyadh wants Islamabad to side with the kingdom as it ramped up efforts to isolate Qatar.
A senior government official, who was briefed on the talks at the monarch’s palace in Jeddah, the paper said that the Pakistani side told the Saudi leadership that Islamabad would support any efforts to foster unity among the Muslim Ummah. However, Pakistan would not take sides in any event that would create division within the Muslim Ummah.
Nevertheless, in order to placate Saudi Arabia, Pakistan offered to its influence over Qatar to defuse the situation. For this purpose, the Prime Minister will undertake visits to Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey.
Another official familiar with the development explained that Pakistan would only compliment efforts of Kuwait to defuse the crisis in the Arab world instead of playing a role of a direct mediator between Gulf countries. The official said Pakistan was not directly mediating between Qatar and Saudi Arabia at this stage.
The official also explained that the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia was also a part of ‘good will gesture’ in the wake of speculations that Pakistan was sending troops to Qatar. Meanwhile, a statement issued by the foreign office on Tuesday said that during the meeting with King Salman, Premier Sharif expressed the hope that the current impasse in the Gulf would be resolved soon in the best interest of Muslim Ummah.
While expressing solidarity with the kingdom and the people of Saudi Arabia, the prime minister said that the kingdom had a very special place in the hearts of Pakistanis and that the Muslim world looked up to the monarch as the custodian of the two Holy Mosques.
“The prime minister reaffirmed the strong commitment of the people and the government of Pakistan for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of kingdom, and the safety of the Harmain al Shareifain” the statement said.
King Salman, according to the statement, thanked the prime minister for his visit to recall the special nature of the relationship between the Kingdom and Pakistan ever since its independenceKing Salman also said the fight against extremism and terrorism was in the interest of all Muslims and Ummah.
He also appreciated the exceptional success of Pakistan against extremism and terrorism, despite the challenging situation and environment, and reiterated the kingdom’s strong commitment and support for all issues of interest of Pakistan, including matters of national security.