Pakistan to Send Army Contingent to Saudi Arabia on Training, Advise Mission

Pakistan is sending Army contingent to its ally Saudi Arabia on a training and advise mission under an existing bilateral security pact, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The statement stressed that these troops or the troops already there will not be employed outside the Kingdom. There are already about 750-800 Pakistani servicemen in Saudi Arabia, in part to guard Islamic holy sites, but they are not combat troops.

It added that the Pakistan Army maintains bilateral security cooperation with many other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and regional countries.

The news was announced after a meeting earlier on February 15 between Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and Saudi Ambassador Nawaf Said al-Maliki in Rawalpindi, the city where the Pakistani military is headquartered.

Pakistan’s retired army chief, General Raheel Sharif, commands the new Saudi-led Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism, though it was not immediately clear whether the new troops would participate in that coalition.

Three years earlier, the Army decided against sending soldiers to join the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. A Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015, backing government forces fighting Iran-allied Huthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia had asked fellow Sunni-majority Pakistan to provide ships, aircraft and troops for the Yemen campaign to stem the influence of Shi’ite Iran in what appears to be proxy war between the Gulf’s two dominant powers.

Pakistan’s parliament voted to remain neutral to avoid being pulled into a sectarian regional power struggle, in part because the country shares a border with Iran and has a sizeable Shi’ite minority.

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