Senator Farhatullah Babar on Tuesday once again expressed concerns about the decision to deploy additional troops to Saudi Arabia, saying there’s a risk of Pakistani armed forces getting pulled into the Yemen conflict.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Babar said his reservations on the issue remain as Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir had outright refused to answer some questions about the deployment.
“If the troops were deployed along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border they could soon get sucked in [the] quagmire under the doctrine of hot pursuit,” he said.
Making a policy statement in the Senate on Monday, the defence minister had stunned senators by bluntly refusing to divulge the location of the deployment of troops being sent to Saudi Arabia even in an in-camera session.
Babar said it should be placed on record whether Pakistani troops will be deployed on the Saudi border and whether they could be sent to Yemen to take part in the conflict there.
“You will soon hear [the news] that the [Pakistani] armed forces personnel have gone to Yemen,” he said, adding that it would be “disastrous” if that actually happened.
Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani once again lashed out at the federal government for concealing information from the parliament, saying politicians only talk about the supremacy of parliament. “Is this supremacy of parliament? he mockingly asked.
He observed that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was aware of the deployment decision but the parliament was kept in the dark and the defence minister had refused to divulge the details.
The Senate chairman had on Monday threatened Dastagir with ‘contempt of parliament’ proceedings after the minister said he could not share operational details of the Pakistani contingent’s deployment.
The defence minister had, however, revealed that some Pakistani 1,600 troops were already deployed in Saudi Arabia while more than 1,000 troops were to be dispatched under a decision recently finalised.
He said the troops being sent as part of ‘enhanced cooperation’ with Saudi Arabia would be deployed within the geographical boundaries of the Kingdom to impart training to Saudi troops as they had learnt skills of mountain warfare and counterterrorism, which was not the case when the military cooperation with Saudi Arabia started under a protocol signed in 1982.