Pakistan mulling Saudi request to send troops to Yemen


Pakistan said Thursday it is considering a request from Saudi Arabia to contribute troops to a Gulf-led operation against militants in Yemen who have seized large swaths of the country.

A delegation of high-level Pakistani officials, including Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday to discuss the request, government sources said.

“I can confirm that we have been contacted by Saudi Arabia in this regard. The matter is being examined,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said at a weekly briefing.

She said that a decision would be made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Aslam declined to clarify when Saudi Arabia made the request for troops, but official sources said that the Saudi crown prince had telephoned Sharif on Thursday morning.

The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel reported that Pakistan and Egypt would dispatch fighter jets and warships to take part in the operation, which has been dubbed “Firmness Storm.”

Aslam said that evacuation of Pakistani citizens and embassy employees from Sanaa would be decided by its embassy in Yemen.

In an interview with Kyodo News on Wednesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Asiam Bajwa Bajwa rejected reports that during Sharif’s visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, Saudi leaders had requested Pakistan to send troops to secure its Yemeni border.