Pakistan supports 34-nation Islamic alliance: FO

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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan supports 34-nation Islamic military coalition announced by Saudi Arabia to combat militancy, extremism and terrorism, Foreign Office confirmed yesterday.
“Pakistan welcomes the formation of the alliance and is awaiting further details to decide the extent of its participation,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah in a statement.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the 34-nation military alliance of Islamic countries against terrorism and the list of countries in the newly-formed coalition included Pakistan.
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman told a press conference Tuesday that the campaign would ‘coordinate’ efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan, but offered only a few concrete indications of how military efforts might proceed.
“There will be international coordination with major powers and international organisations … in terms of operations in Syria and Iraq. We can’t undertake these operations without coordinating with legitimacy in this place and the international community,” bin Salman said without elaborating.
Prince Salman said the new coalition would confront not only the Islamic State but “any terrorist organisation that appears in front of us.”
The IS operations and activities across the Middle East have led to military responses executed by alliances that most of the time rival each other. Syria has been battling IS and other militants with the help of Iran and Russia.
The US, which is supporting groups trying to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is meanwhile leading another alliance against IS.
Iran has led military efforts along with the Iraqi army and volunteers in the fight against IS in Iraq. The US-led alliance has been supporting the ground operations against IS with their airstrikes.
Pakistan’s role in the new military coalition is still unclear. It already has comprehensive cooperation with Saudi Arabia on counter-terrorism and can offer its expertise to the 34-nation alliance in training because of its expertise after fighting terrorism over the years.
The spokesperson said Pakistan has consistently supported all regional and international counter-terrorism efforts as well as the decision of Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that also called for joining regional and international efforts to fight terrorism and extremist mindset.
The 42nd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC held in Kuwait this year had reiterated its commitment to relevant UN and OIC resolutions on combating terrorism and extremism and called for joining regional and international efforts to fight terrorism and extremist mindset.
Khalilullah said, “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are enjoying close, cordial, and brotherly relations, condemn terrorism and cooperate in the efforts to address the challenge.”
Another senior government official also confirmed Pakistan’s decision in principle to support the new Saudi alliance but did not tell the role Pakistan could play in this regard.
Requesting not to be named, he was not much convinced about Pakistan sending its troops for deployment on foreign soil arguing Pakistan can offer training and technical assistance to the new military coalition.

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