February 10, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5639

Pakistani Dailies: Saudi Arabia Has Asked Pakistan To Dispatch Two Army Divisions To The Kingdom

February 10, 2014
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 5639

According to the Urdu-language daily Roznama Naya Akhbar, Saudi Arabia has asked Pakistan to dispatch two divisions of its army (some 30,000 troops) to the kingdom as part of a bilateral defense agreement currently being formulated between the two countries. The report has it that Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Shareef is currently in Saudi Arabia to promote the agreement. It also mentioned that there may be progress on Pakistan's sale of JF-17 Thunder fighter planes and Al-Khalid tanks to Saudi Arabia.[1]

The daily Roznama Ummat stated that the two Pakistani divisions will train Saudi troops. It mentioned that Pakistani troops have been deployed in Saudi Arabia in the past, but later the Americans began training the Saudi forces instead, which led to cultural conflicts. The daily speculated that Saudi Arabia may be interested not only in Pakistan's military assistance, but also in playing a role in the talks with the Taliban.[2]

It should be noted that senior Saudi officials recently made visits to Pakistan, which were reported in both the Saudi and the Pakistani press. On January 6, 2014, Saudi Foreign Minister Sa'ud Al-Faisal made an official two-day visit to Islamabad "to strengthen bilateral relations" between the two countries.[3] At a press conference held upon the visit's conclusion, he spoke of thwarting the schemes of those seeking to spoil the relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Hinting at Iran, he called to fight any attempts by external elements to exploit the security vacuum in Afghanistan and expand their influence among the Afghani people in order to kindle sectarian strife.[4] On January 20, 2014 Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Sultan bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz visited Pakistan as well, and met with the Pakistani Chief of Staff. The two discussed the bilateral relations between the countries and deepening the military cooperation between them.[5] According to reports, yet another senior Saudi official – Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Prince Salman bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz – is to visit to Pakistan on February 15-17 and meet with its prime minister and president to sign defense and security agreements.[6]

Pakistan's Minister of Interior, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, told the Saudi daily 'Okaz that Pakistan's prime minister is interested in enhancing the ties with Saudi Arabia and elevating them to the level of a strategic partnership in all areas – political, economic and military – following the chill that sadly occurred in the bilateral relationship in the past five years. He added that Saudi Arabia's security and stability were Pakistan's security and stability, and vice versa. [7]

Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz (left) receives Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif in Riyadh


[1] Roznama Naya Akhbar (Pakistan), February 8, 2014.

[2] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), February 7, 2014.

[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), January 7, 2014.

[4] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), January 8, 2014.

[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 21, 2014.

[6], February 6, 2014.

[7] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia) January 20, 2014.

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