More deliberations needed
Many expected Nawaz Sharif to play a lead role in resolving the conflict in Yemen. Little was done however besides paying a visit to Turkey where Erdogan was preparing to leave for Iran to attend an already scheduled meeting with his Iranian counterpart with economic issues on the top of the agenda. This was reflected in the joint statement by the two presidents which contained no reference to Yemen. Sharif however held a number of top level meetings in Islamabad to work out a stand which was sensible. Meanwhile pressure from Riyadh multiplied with the visit of a Saudi Minister and an Advisers who held meetings with religious parties close to the Salafi sect and were already holding processions demanding Pakistan military’s participation in Saudi attack on Yemen.
With the UN passing a resolution on Yemen that envisages, inter alia, a naval blockade to stop arms shipment to the Houthi fighters and the forces of former President Saleh, a decision has reportedly been taken to send Pakistan Navy’s elements to enforce the embargo. Interestingly there are other Muslim countries like Turkey and Indonesia who have bigger navies than Pakistan but have yet to respond to the UN resolution. Why didn’t the government wait for the UN to nominate a pointsman to implement the resolution? Why didn’t it try to convene a meeting of the OIC to formulate a joint line of action?
Has anybody in the government weighed the relevance of the naval blockade? The embargo would have little impact on the fighting capacity of the Houthis and their supporters inside Yemen. The country is already awash in arms with an estimated 40 to 60 million serviceable weapons, according to the latest UN Panel of Experts (PoE) report. The GCC countries possess no armada while Pakistan can only make a few ships available. With Yemen having over half a dozen ports, the combined strength of these countries is going to achieve little.