KARACHI: Pakistani lawmakers’ call for the government to remain neutral on the escalating crisis in Yemen has evoked a strong response from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The vague and contradictory stands of Pakistan and Turkey are an absolute proof that Arab security — from Libya to Yemen — is the responsibility of none but Arab countries,” UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash said.
Speaking to renowned Emirati newspaper Khaleej Times, Garhash warned Pakistan of having to pay a “heavy price” for taking on what he called an “ambiguous stand”. He added that Pakistan should take a clear position “in favour of its strategic relations with the six-nation Arab Gulf cooperation Council”.
“The Arabian Gulf is in a dangerous confrontation, its strategic security is on the edge, and the moment of truth distinguishes between the real ally and the ally of media and statements,” Gargash tweeted moments after the Pakistani parliament passed the resolution insisting on neutrality in the Yemen conflict.
Gargash went to symbolise Pakistan’s resolution as equivalent of siding up with Iran instead of the Gulf. “Tehran seems to be more important to Islamabad and Ankara than the Gulf countries,” Gargash said.
“Though our economic and investment assets are inevitable, political support is missing at critical moments,” he added.
The statement comes a day after the Parliament passed a unanimous resolution vowing to defend Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity and the holy places of Makkah and Madinah. None of these locations appear to have so far been threatened by the conflict.
“Pakistan should play a mediating role and not get involved in the fighting in Yemen,” the resolution stated, adding that “the Parliament of Pakistan ... underscores the need for continued efforts by the government of Pakistan to find a peaceful resolution of the crisis”.
“[Parliament] desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis,” it stated.
The Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against Houthi rebels on March 26 in support of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after they seized the capital and forced him to flee to Aden. The government of Pakistan has so far not announced a decision on Saudi Arabia’s request for Islamabad to join a coalition fighting Houthi rebels by contributing jets, navy ships and ground troops.