South Asia

No overseas duty for Pakistan troops: Nawaz

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday dismissed speculation that Pakistan was sending its troops abroad. News reports quoted him as saying in response to questions that no forces were being sent to Bahrain or Saudi Arabia and these countries had not asked for assistance.

He was speaking to the media after a ceremony to rename the Mianwali air base after Air Commodore (retd.) M.M. Alam who distinguished himself in the 1965 war. Pakistan believed in peaceful coexistence, he said.

Mr. Sharif also clarified that the visit of the King of Bahrain was in the interests of the country. King Hamad bin Isa bin Salam Al Khalifa accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising security and defence officials on a three day trip to the country, also visited the joint services headquarters on Wednesday which for a head of state, is quite unusual.

A joint statement released after his visit, which ended on Thursday, said among other things that the two sides stressed the importance of increasing the defence and security cooperation between the two countries. It was agreed that the security dialogue will take place annually between the two countries at mutually agreed, appropriate level. It was also decided to strengthen sharing of information, intelligence and assessments. Both sides denounced terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirmed their desire to strengthen their cooperation in combating terrorism at both the bilateral level and within the multilateral system of the U.N.

Speculation about Pakistan's change in foreign policy towards Syria has been rife after the visit of the Saudi Arabian crown prince and a subsequent grant of $1.5 billion to the Pakistan government. While the government maintains there are no strings attached, the Pakistan foreign office has time and again denied that there is a change in the nature of engagement. On Thursday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ms. Tasnim Aslam said that all the issues had been addressed on this front. She said there is no change in foreign policy vis-à-vis Pakistan's neighbours and she had previously clarified and denied reports on whether the country was planning to arm rebels in Syria, with details on the arms export policy. Pakistan had close ties with Iran and in intra Gulf Cooperation Council issues, Pakistan will not take sides, she said. The country tries to play a constructive role, she said, adding that the Prime Minister was slated to visit Iran though the dates were yet to be finalized.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 3:49:53 PM |

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