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Country Report Pakistan Product Image

Country Report Pakistan

  • ID: 2101420
  • March 2015
  • Region: Pakistan
  • 25 Pages
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, announced on March 26th that a delegation of civil and military officials, including the defence minister, Khawaja Asif, will visit Saudi Arabia to discuss the kingdom's request to join its campaign against Shia rebels in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia's request to Pakistan is part of a broader effort to call in debts of support from majority Sunni Muslim countries that the kingdom has helped in the past. This in turn reflects Saudi Arabia's wider regional conflict with Iran, a Shia power challenging Saudi leadership in the Arab world, including backing the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, which Saudi Arabia believes pose a threat to stability in the Arabian peninsula. Pakistan's response to the Saudi request will need to balance demonstrating allegiance to a long-standing ally and important donor with avoiding getting drawn into the profoundly sectarian divide between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as this would risk damaging Pakistan's internal security by exacerbating tensions with its own Shia minority.

Ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia run deep, and they have a history of collaborating on regional strategy, notably in Afghanistan. In addition, Mr Sharif has a strong personal connection to the kingdom, which gave him sanctuary in 2000 after he was deposed in a military coup. In addition, the kingdom provided his government with US$1.5bn in March 2014 to help to avert a balance-of-payments crisis. Perhaps with an eye to wooing Pakistani support for the trouble brewing in Yemen, the Saudi Arabian government accorded Mr Sharif the rare honour of being received at the airport in Riyadh by the King, Salman bin Abdel-Aziz al-Saud, on a state visit on March 4th.

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Country Report Pakistan

Pakistan weighs assisting Saudi Arabia in Yemen
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