Pakistan announced on Tuesday that it has decided to join the Saudi Arabia-led counter-terrorism front but shied away from giving details on how many troops will be part of the coalition.
The announcement of the 34-nation coalition by Riyadh last week caught Pakistani foreign ministry officials off-guard and media reports suggested that the basis of the understanding was a verbal commitment given by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Saudi King.
However, Pakistan is still unclear on the extent of commitment that is expected of it. Riyadh envisages a coalition that comprises armies from many Muslim countries to fight against religious extremists. However, the proposal has received opposition from various quarters. In the Pakistan senate, the chairman of the house Raza Rabbani commented “You have become part of a coalition without consulting the parliament.” Advisor to PM Sharif on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan was not alone, pointing out that 33 other countries have also joined the coalition. “I’m not concerned with 33 countries. I’m concerned about Pakistan,” Rabbani shot back.
Aziz on Monday had told Pakistani lawmakers that Islamabad has yet not decided to commit troops for the coalition. But officials say that these details have been finalised and the Pakistan army will be sending troops by early as January 2016.