Sharif may spell Pakistan role in Saudi-led military alliance

Islamabad, March 9 (IANS) Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finalised the strategy for his Wednesday’s trip to Saudi Arabia, where he is likely to define the role Islamabad will play in the 34-nation counter-terrorism alliance formed by the kingdom.

Sharif on Tuesday met his top foreign policy, economy, military and intelligence advisers before he and the army chief General Raheel Sharif leave for Saudi Arabia, Dawn online reported.

Sharif will attend the concluding ceremony of the multinational counter-terrorism exercise — Raad al-Shamal. Discussions on the shape and scope of activities of the Saudi-led alliance are also expected to take place on the sidelines of the ceremony.

Pakistan has kept its position on the alliance vague, but government ministers have on different occasions hinted that it could help in intelligence sharing, capacity building, provision of military hardware and formulation of counter-narrative to extremist propaganda.

Anticipating a major return for engagement with Saudi Arabia in its venture, the government is pushing for a more active involvement in the alliance.

The meeting, according to a source, also discussed the progress in investigation into the involvement of Pakistan-based militants in the Path­ankot airbase attack and the impending visit of the investigation team to India for collecting further evidence.

The investigation team is expected to travel to India in the next few days.

Pakistan tipped off India about a terrorist plot hatched by Lashkar-e-Taiba for whose execution it was said that a team of 10-15 militants had crossed the border.

In the domestic context, the meeting discussed the Karachi situation, terrorist attack on the court complex in Charsadda and the last phase of ongoing Shawal operation.

The statement said the meeting had reaffirmed the government’s commitment to fighting terrorism.

“The meeting agreed that elimination of terrorism from our soil is a national resolve and paid tribute to the personnel of law-enforcement and security agencies who embraced martyrdom while fighting this menace of terrorism,” it said.

Sharif and General Raheel leave on Wednesday on a three-days visit to Saudi Arabia.

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