Pak PM, army chief to discuss Qatar rift with Saudi, others
A brief official statement said Sharif would hold “consultations on (the) Gulf rift” and the “emergent situation among GCC countries” with the Saudi leadership.world Updated: Jun 12, 2017 17:09 IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa left for a day-long visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday for consultations on the rift caused by the snapping of diplomatic ties with Qatar by several Gulf countries.
They were accompanied by finance minister Ishaq Dar, Sartaj Aziz, the adviser on foreign affairs to Sharif, and other senior officials.
A brief official statement said Sharif would hold “consultations on (the) Gulf rift” and the “emergent situation among GCC countries” with the Saudi leadership.
“He will hold talks with the Saudi leadership on the latest situation developing amongst the GCC countries,” it added.
Sharif is also expected to travel to Qatar and Kuwait, media reports said.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and several other countries cut ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of backing terrorism. The move triggered a diplomatic crisis. Qatar rejected the charges and said it was willing to hold talks to end the row.
Turkey and Iran have backed Qatar, rushing food and other supplies to the country after Saudi Arabia and the UAE snapped road, air and sea links that are used to ferry supplies.
Pakistan responded to the crisis by calling for unity in the Muslim world and dialogue to end the standoff. Members of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament have expressed “deep concern” over the rift and passed a resolution urging all countries to “show restraint and resolve their differences through dialogue”.
According to media reports, a Qatari delegation visited Pakistan last week to relay a message from the country’s ruler, who asked Islamabad to play a positive role in resolving the crisis.
The Foreign Office denied knowledge of any such visit. It also denied media reports that 20,000 Pakistani troops would be deployed in Qatar.
Sharif is believed to have close ties with Qatar’s ruling family. He is also very close to the Saudi royal family, which provided him shelter after he was deposed during a bloodless coup led by Gen Pervez Musharraf in 1999.
Pakistan has close economic ties with countries on both sides of the rift. Millions of Pakistanis live and work in the Gulf countries, and their remittances amount to billions of dollars. Qatar is the biggest supplier of LNG to Pakistan, providing 2.75 million tons a year.