Sartaj-led team to leave today (Business Recorder (Pakistan))

Pakistan decided on Monday not to become part of the ongoing Middle East conflict. A high-level delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif will leave for Riyadh today (Tuesday) to assure its all-out support for protecting Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to undertake a comprehensive review of the prevailing situation in the Middle East.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar; Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Advisor to PM on National Security Sartaj Aziz, Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry among other senior officials, according to a PM House’s handout issued after the meeting.
“The meeting concluded that Pakistan remains firmly committed to supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan,” it stated. It was emphasised that Pakistan stands committed to playing a meaningful role in arresting the deteriorating situation in the Middle East. In the same context, and to facilitate early resolution of the crisis and to promote peace and unity of the Muslim Ummah, the Prime Minister would be contacting the leadership of brotherly countries.
“Pakistan calls upon the United Nations, OIC, and the international community to play a constructive role in finding a political solution of the crisis,” the meeting concluded.
A senior foreign office official who declined to be named told Business Recorder that Pakistan would not become a party to the conflict while all our resources would be available to protect the holy land in case of any threat to Saudi Arabia.
“The nature of co-operation will be specific to protection of the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia as being Muslim we’re bound to safeguard the holy land,” he maintained.
According to official sources, the delegation led by Khwaja Asif will assess the level and nature of co-operation the Kingdom has been looking forward to in wake of the ME conflict.
The delegation would comprise Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and representatives of the three armed forces; the sources said.
Pakistan, which has publicly denied it is currently part of the Saudi-led coalition in the ongoing offensive against Houthis in Yemen, is expected to announce its decision about the nature of its co-operation after a high-level delegation’s visit to Riyadh, the sources maintained.
The delegation was due to leave for Saudi Arabia last Friday, however, according to Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, the visit was postponed due to the Arab League Summit.
According to foreign media reports, 15 Pakistani fighter jets are also part of the ongoing operation in Yemen. However, Foreign Secretary in a hurriedly called media briefing on Saturday night rejected the reports, saying that at present Pakistan was not part of the coalition and any decision in this regard would be taken after the visit of the high level delegation to Riyadh.