Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today chaired a high-level meeting to discuss Pakistan’s role in the Yemen crisis after Saudi Arabia requested military assistance from it to oust Shia rebels.

The meeting comes as a Pakistani delegation returned from Riyadh after holding “good” discussions with the Saudi leadership over the issue.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who led the delegation to Riyadh, briefed the meeting about his talks with Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

Asif apprised the leaders about the demands made by the Saudi government in view of the crisis, reports said.

Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz and officers from armed forces and foreign office were also part of the delegation to Riyadh.

“The delegation had very good discussion with the Saudi Defence Minister. The visit helped us in having better understanding of the conflict in Yemen and concerns of the Saudi brethren,” Asif said after his return.

Last week, Saudi Arabia requested Pakistan to provide troops in support of its military campaign in Yemen where Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels have taken control of large parts of the country.

The Kingdom is trying to put together a broad-based coalition and is eager that Pakistan join it.

But Pakistan is in a tricky situation as sending troops could anger Iran, also an important neighbour and a country with which it shares a border.

Sharif’s government has already said Pakistan is committed to ensure the territorial integrity of Saudi Araba, but no decision has been made on troops deployment.

Sharif, who lived in Saudi Arabia after he was ousted in a military coup in 1999, is likely to consult other political parties over the issue after the briefing by the delegation.

Opposition parties yesterday demanded that the government call an all-party meet, and also discuss the troop deployment issue in the parliament.

Saudi Arabia, with its oil wealth, is especially an important country for Pakistan, which last year received USD 1.5 billion in aid from the kingdom. 

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