Pakistani officials visit Saudi Arabia to discuss support in Yemen (dpa German Press Agency)

Islamabad (dpa) – A Pakistani delegation left for Saudi Arabia Tuesday to “discuss the crisis in Yemen and Saudi request for deployment of [Pakistani] troops,” an official said.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif led the delegation which included foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz and other officials, the source said on condition of anonymity.
“The delegation will assess the security situation and report back to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.”
The Saudi government approached Pakistan last week to provide troops in support of its operation in Yemen.
Security analyst Fida Hussain said Pakistan is in a difficult situation as it enjoys close ties with Saudi Arabia as well as neighbouring Iran, which is accused of standing behind the Shiite Houthi rebels.
“The sending of troops to fight in Yemen may result in tension with Iran,” he said.
Hussain said Pakistan would also need to remain conscious of its own Shiite population of more than 20 per cent.
Pakistan has evacuated an estimated 500 of its nationals out of about 3,000 who were in Yemen when the current clashes broke out.
Public opinion in Pakistan appears divided. Former cricketing star and opposition leader Imran Khan said at the weekend that it would be “dangerous” to join the Saudi-led operations against the Houthis.
Some have suggested Pakistan should limit its support to troops deployed inside Saudi Arabia against any incursions from Yemen-based rebels.
Former lieutenant general Amjad Shoiab told Geo TV that Pakistan should follow the 1980s model, when it sent troops to Saudi Arabia to counter the threat of spillover from the Iran-Iraq war.
Pakistan already has about 300 soldiers in Saudi Arabia, on a joint exercise with Saudi troops. A military spokesman said on Monday that those troops were not on “operational deployment.”