When asked about Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s announcement regarding Pakistan being a part of the Saudi-led 34-nation military alliance, the foreign secretary had professed ignorance. Later, briefing the Senté on the matter, Prime Minister’s adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz affirmed Pakistan’s participation in the alliance. Quizzed by Senators regarding the details of the alliance, Aziz said he was not aware of them, thus drawing flak from the Senators. The foreign office comprises capable diplomats and has set up desks which conduct thorough studies and possess updated information of regions allotted to them. The answers indicate that the foreign office was s not involved in the process of decision making on the issue of joining the alliance.
On Friday Saudi assistant defence minister for military affairs visited the General Headquarters and called on the COAS. As ISPR explained, the matters discussed related to regional security and bilateral defence collaboration including training exchanges. This raises the question if details about Saudi-led military alliance were also brought under discussion. The curiosity is not uncalled for as Riyadh was supposed to provide these details to Pakistan as Saudi Arabia is expected to convene a meeting of the coalition partners in January. It would be too much if Riyadh was to again make another surprise announcement on behalf of Pakistan as it did earlier this month.
A lot of foreign policy related developments have taken place this month. These include the re-initiation of the suspended Pak-Afghan dialogue, an apparent U-turn by Narendra Modi on relations with Pakistan, the Saudi-led alliance and Pakistan’s new policy on Syria which is totally opposed to the Saudi and Turkish policy regarding the government of President Bashar al-Assad. It is time the prime minister makes an authoritative policy statement on these important issues. This will provide confidence to the people that decisions are being taken at the right forum by those authorised to do so under the constitution.