Pakistani senators have voiced strong objection to their country being part of a recently-announced Saudi-led alliance allegedly formed to fight terrorism.
In a heated debate in the upper house of the parliament, the senators from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and other opposition groups grilled Pakistan Prime Minister Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, over the role Pakistan is set to play in the coalition.
The lawmakers accused the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of bypassing the parliament in its decision to join the controversial alliance.
Aziz faced a volley of questions from Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani and other lawmakers who strongly objected to the government’s sidelining of the legislature on this issue
.The angry senators raised doubts about whether the Saudi-led alliance can be a unified Muslim front against extremists. They also asked why the new coalition does not include countries such as Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
Several senators also staged a walk-out to denounce the unilateral decision by the government. Meanwhile, Senator Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi accused the Saudi monarchy of targeting the Muslim unity.“We are not going to fight against our own people, we will not fight against Muslims, we did not fight in Yemen, we will not fight anywhere else,” Mashhadi said.Last week, Saudi Arabia said it had patched together a coalition of 34 Muslim countries to fight against terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and Syria.
The announcement, however, surprised some countries, saying their names had been included without their knowledge.Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said last Wednesday that he had no knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s decision on the inclusion of Pakistan in the alliance.
After initial ambiguity, the Pakistan government confirmed its participation in a Saudi-led military alliance. However, Islamabad has said the scope of its participation would be defined after Riyadh shares the details of the coalition it is assembling.”Yes, we’re part of it,” Pakistani’s Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah told reporters in Islamabad December 17.Pakistani opposition politicians have criticized the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for colluding with some royals from the Arab monarchies over the issue. Saudi Arabia and some other monarchies of the Persian Gulf states are widely accused of supporting militant groups wreaking havoc in Syria.