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Feb 17: PTI position on troop deployment to Saudi Arabia by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

After consultations with PTI members across the country. Following is PTI position on troop deployment to Saudi Arabia:

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have a long history of close friendship and brotherhood. Both countries have deep security, economic, and religious ties. Every Pakistani is ready to sacrifice his life to protect the holy places in Mecca and Medina. In the past, Pakistan has contributed towards the security of Saudi Arabia by deploying our brave troops. Saudi Arabia has reciprocated this gesture by providing job opportunities to Pakistani labor and contributing economic resources to help the country deal with sanctions. Based on this shared history PTI does not oppose redeployment of our troops but we have serious concerns and reservations about how this decision was made and announced.

First, Nawaz Sharif should inform the nation whether troop deployment was discussed during his clandestine trip to Saudi Arabia after being deposed by the Supreme Court. We should also be informed when was the decision made and whether cabinet approval was sought for it or not. We would also like to know why terms of engagement for these troops was not discussed in the parliament. The announcement should have been made jointly by the spokesman of the ministry of foreign affairs and DG ISPR because now a perception is being built by some foreign media that there is a civ-mil divide.

Saudi Arabia has tense diplomatic relations with Iran, Qatar, and Yemen. Turkey and Saudi relations also suffered because of former support for Qatar. These are all friendly countries with Pakistan and as a key military power in Muslim ummah, it is important that we are seen as neutral and unbiased towards any one country. Force deployment could send a wrong message if not handled properly.

Saudi Arabia has so far not supported Pakistan position on Kashmir and Afghanistan as compared to Iran, our neighbor. Saudi Arabia has also deported over 800000 Pakistani labor in last two years. An economically distressed Pakistan cannot serve its proper role in the Muslim ummah.

We suggest that government of Pakistan ensure transparency in the redeployment of Pakistani troops and take the nation into confidence about it. These forces should be solely dedicated to ensuring security and stability around the holy places.

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