Pakistan will continue to play its role to preserve peace and stability in the Middle East, a senior member of the Pakistani Cabinet told Okaz/Saidi Gazette in an exclusive interview here recently.
“Pakistan enjoys special relations with Saudi Arabia and these relations have gained in strength with the passage of time."
Pakistan has always advocated and worked for peace in the world and is ready to cooperate and assist in establishing peace in the Mideast region,” said Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: How do you view the outcome of Pakistan prime minister’s visit to the Kingdom at this crucial stage? What is the message the PM wants to convey to the Saudi leadership at this critical time?
A: The recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia is a manifestation of the close and cordial relations between the two countries and continuing consultations between the two brotherly countries on issues of bilateral interest.
The visit also offered an opportunity to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to exchange views on bilateral matters as well as the situation in Yemen.
The meeting with president of Yemen sent a clear signal that Pakistan stands with Saudi Arabia as well as the UN Security Council which calls for restoration of the legitimate government of Hadi.
Q: What is the stand of your government regarding the Decisive Storm Operation and the Saudi government’s decision to halt the military operation and start the Restoration of Hope Operation?
A: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close fraternal relations. Saudi Arabia is one of our more important strategic allies.
Pakistan is committed to Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability which has been the pillar of our foreign policy.
We assure our Saudi brothers that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. As a responsible member of United Nations, Pakistan fully supports United Nations Security Council resolutions which refers to the legitimacy of President (Abdrabbu Mansour) Hadi and the Yamani government.
Likewise, we have also opposed the overthrow by force of a legitimate president and the government by the Houthi militias.
We welcome halting the military operation as a step toward moving to political solution.
Q: The prime minister of Pakistan has made a policy statement on Yemen and clarified the Pakistani government stand regarding the relations with Saudi Arabia in which he says that any attack on Saud Arabia is an attack on Pakistan. Your views?
A: I would like to make very clear that Pakistanis reveres the two holy Muslim sites in Makkah and Madinah as an article of faith.
There is absolute unanimity in the public as well as all strata of society including various organs of the government on our principled position of defending the two holiest places of Islam.
There can and is no difference of opinion in the country on this issue.
Q: How do you view the recent UN resolution in supporting the legitimacy and the participation of Pakistan Naval ships in the inspection operation?
A: The United Nation Security Council is in line with Pakistan’s position which supports the legitimate government of President Hadi in Yemen.
As a responsible member of United Nations, Pakistan will fully comply with the provisions of the recent as well as all previous UN Security Council resolutions.
Q: What is the future scope of the Saudi-Pakistan partnership?
A: Pakistan enjoys special relations with Saudi Arabia and these relations have gained in strength with the passage of time.
Pakistan has always advocated and worked for peace in the world and is ready to cooperate and assist in establishing peace in the region.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are leading members of Islamic World as well as comity of nations. Pakistan will continue to play its role to preserve peace and stability in the Middle East.
Q: How do you view the role of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in maintaining peace in the region?
A: King Salman wields enormous respect and influence among Muslims as custodian of two holy sites and as Head of State of a country which is the biggest oil producer.
Saudi Arabia has always strived for peace and supported just causes including the Palestinian and the Kashmiri issue.
A strong Saudi government led by King Salman is both a source of inspiration and anchor of peace and stability.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy excellent relations in all spheres including defense cooperation. SIMSAM military exercises are a manifestation of the excellent relations between two countries and regular exchange and interaction between their defense forces.
Q: What are the areas you feel need to be further explored in the Saudi-Pak relations?
A: We are grateful to Saudi Arabia for the support and cooperation that it has extended to us bilaterally and multi-laterally.
Saudi Arabia has always been there when Pakistan needed it, be it natural disasters or times of war and peace. Both the countries enjoy similarity of views on various issues and have supported each other in international fora.
Pakistan believes that the warmth and close relations between the two countries can be further expanded in the economic sphere.
Pakistan would prefer Saudi investment in the fields of energy and infrastructure development which are the priorities of the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Q: How do you see the parliament decision on Yemen, particularly the 10th clause of parliament?
A: Clause 10 of the resolution passed by Majlis-e-Shoura (Parliament) joint sitting reads “Expresses unequivocal support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and affirms that in case of any violation of its territorial integrity or any threat to Haramain Sharifain, Pakistan will stand shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia and its people”.
This clearly expresses the unanimous view of the people of Pakistan and their support for Saudi Arabia as well as their commitment to stand besides their Saudi brethren.
Q: Where Zarb-Azb operation stand now and do you think that the Pakistani armed forces succeeded in their goals?
A: One of the foremost priorities of the present government has been to establish peace and stability in the country.
This is a pre-requisite for progress, development and prosperity of the nation. The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after having exhausted all other options approved Zarb-e-Azb operation.
Q: As minister of information how do you analyze the coverage in Pakistan media of the war in Yemen since I felt that there is a section of Pakistan media which is siding with the Houthis?
A: Freedom of expression is the hallmark of Pakistani media. Though the media in Pakistan is independent and may have varying degree of hostility toward the government when it comes to Pakistan relations with foreign countries it has largely acted in national interest.
Pakistani media supports Saudi Arabia and is sensitive to public opinion on the issue. The media has supported Saudi Arabia and upheld internationally recognized position of Pakistan on Yemen.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 28, 2015.SHOW MORE