Pakistan Army has announced to deploy troops in its close ally Saudi Arabia under existing bilateral security cooperation agreement. The decision comes after meeting between Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
The troops have been deployed for training and advise mission. They will not be employed outside Saudi Arabia. The move comes three years after Pakistan decided against sending soldiers to join the Saudi-led military intervention in strife-torn Yemen. Already around 1,000 Pakistani troops have been deployed in Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan in various advisory and training roles. Pakistan is treading fine line in maintaining relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Qatar and other regional players. The decision of deploying troops may annoy Saudi Arabia’s regional rivals like Iran and Qatar.
Pakistan army maintains bilateral security cooperation with many other Gulf/regional countries. Saudi Arabia has been pushing its fellow Sunni-majority ally Pakistan to provide troops since 2015 when it joined Yemen’s civil war but Pakistan steadily refused, saying it would not become party to any regional conflict. Pakistan also had joined Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) set up by Saudi Arabia and is led by former Pakistan Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif which is still in an early stage to play any role in the conflict.