Islamabad: Pakistan government has refused to provide details of its decision to send over 1,000 soldiers to its close-ally Saudi Arabia for deployment, prompting Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani to threaten Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir with “contempt of parliament proceedings”.
Pakistan Army announced on February 15 the decision to send troops to Saudi Arabia on a training and advise mission .
Making a policy statement in the Senate, the upper house, Pak Defence Minister Dastagir said that “Pakistani troops are being dispatched to Saudi Arabia and they are only meant for imparting training to Saudi security personnel instead of entangling themselves in Yemen war”.
He told lawmakers that over 1,000 contingent will be dispatched shortly as part of the decision.
Currently, around 1,600 Pakistani troops are on deputation in Saudi Arabia under a bilateral agreement.
He rejected the impression that by sending troops the government had violated April 2015 resolution by parliament which had asked the government to stay away from the Yemen war.
However, the Senate Chairman rejected Dastagir’s briefing to the upper house after the minister said he could not divulge “operational details” of the deployment.
“Why don’t we proceed against you and the prime minister over ‘contempt of parliament’?” Rabbani asked.
He asked why the parliament was not informed by the minister and the prime minister since they knew about the decision to deploy the troops.
“The parliament found out (about the deployment) through a press release,” Rabbani said, adding that the executive has itself “rubbed parliament’s nose in the dirt”.
Rabbani asked the minister to provide all details about the deployment and offered in-camera session for the purpose and urged him “not to give us a lollipop” as “we are not children.”
The minister refused to accept the offer and even refused to share the location where the troops will be deployed in Saudi Arabia.
He told the Senate that the troops will not be deployed outside the Saudi Arabia’s territory, but Rabbani expressed a lack of confidence in his words, saying this information was already known. PTI