Pakistani authorities seemingly have no idea when they were included on Saudi Arabia’s list of the 34 Islamic nations that allegedly teamed up to fight terrorism in the Middle East.
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry admitted as much when he discovered Islamabad was added to Riyadh’s list of Muslim counter-terror partners, saying he read about it in the newspaper, but had never heard from the Saudis on this issue.
Chaudhry told journalists Tuesday that he was seeking clarification on the matter from Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. An unnamed senior official told Dawn news that Pakistan was not consulted prior to its inclusion on the list of Islamic nations.
On Tuesday, Riyadh announced it had garnered the support of 34 Islamic nations to engage in military operations in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Afghanistan. These nations remain rife with terrorist movements, and all five hold a significant Islamic State presence.
Earlier this year, the Saudis named Pakistan as one of its partners in supporting the internationally-recognized administration in Yemen. There, Sunni and Shiite forces battle it out for land in the war-torn country, as both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have established insurgent movements. Pakistan, however, declined to send forces to the region.
Pakistan’s official policy for sending forces overseas entails that it will not send troops outside of its recognized borders other than for United Nations peacekeeping missions, Dawn reports.
The country has also rejected joining a U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. “We are not looking for any involvement outside our region,” stated Pakistan army spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa last month.
Pakistan is not alone in being unaware of its inclusion on the Saudi list. Palestinian Foreign Ministry spokesman Taisser Jaradat admitted Tuesday he knows “nothing about” the coalition. “How can we fight terrorism? we need someone to help us,” he added.
And other members of the 34-nation list, such as Mauritania, Niger, Comoros, Lebanon, and Libya “have very little capability to project force outside their borders,” according to a dispatch from IHS Janes.