Pakistan Army Will Not Engage in the Middle East Conflict Despite Saudi Bailout Package

Will Pakistan Army join Saudi led coalition forces to assist Riyadh in controlling the Middle East? There are no pre-conditions to the $6.2B economic package offered by Saudi Arabia to Islamabad – Pakistan Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi affirmed. Saudi Arabia is engaged in a dangerous proxy-war with Iran, and Riyadh is keen to have Pakistan Army by its side.

Qureshi also said his government standpoint would remain the same and no Pakistan Army troops would be deployed in Yemen or Syria. There are no preconditions to the Saudi loan.

Qureshi said that “Accepting the conditions of International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) stipulations are not straightforward, but we may still have to go to them to get our economy back on track,” he said, bemoaning that the 10 years of damage could not be undone in a few weeks.

The minister claimed that request for oil on deferred disbursements had been made in the past by both the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), but Riyadh had rejected their requests.

“Opposition’s objection to the PM Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia is baseless,” said Qureshi, adding that more than 2.4 million Pakistanis were working in different parts of the Kingdom.

As part of the financial aid package, he said, Riyadh had also decided to set up an oil refinery in Pakistan, besides reducing the visa fee for Pakistani workers.

Pakistan’s Relations with Iran and Afghanistan

“Islamabad has friendly relations with Tehran, and it has no issues with our friendship with Saudi Arabia,” he said, calling the abduction of Iranian border guards a regrettable event. “We can’t afford hostilities on our third border at a time when two are already facing massive violence from two borders with India and Afghanistan,”

Qureshi also added that the new Pakistan government has sent the Trump administration a message that the only way forward to the peace process in Afghanistan is via talks. “It is not fair to ask us to do everything, the Taliban are not in our pocket,” he quipped.

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