Pakistan Army Set to Deploy 5,000 Men to Protect Saudi Arabia from Houthis
The Pakistan Army has apparently agreed to deploy 5,000 of its men to the war-torn southern border Saudi Arabia shares with its foe, Yemen.
It is unclear if the Pakistanis will form part of a proposed mobile strike force under command of the new Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (also known as the Islamic Military Alliance or IMA), which some observers describe as an Islamic NATO.
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Gen. Raheel Sharif, retired Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Pakistan Army, now leads the IMA as its first Commander-in-Chief.
Pakistani media quoting anonymous high level Pakistani government officials said the Pakistani soldiers will be deployed to Saudi Arabia's southern border with Yemen, which is a hotspot in the ongoing Yemeni Civil War that began in March 2015. No official Pakistani government decision as to the deployment of Pakistan Army troops to Saudi Arabia has been made.
Media, however, quoted Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, as saying that any Pakistani troops sent to Saudi Arabia "shall only be for employment within Saudi Arabia" adding that Pakistan "will not filter soldiers to send a particular sect only."
Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition of 10 Arab states that has been fighting in the Yemini Civil War to restore to power the legitimate regime of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi ousted by Shia Houthi rebels militarily supported by Iran.
The Saudi-led coalition includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan. This little known but vicious civil war has seen Saudi military deaths exceed 430 men as of late December 2016.
There are currently 1,200 Pakistan Army soldiers in Saudi Arabia helping train men of the Saudi Arabian Army. The newly trained Saudi Arabian soldiers will soon be deployed to the fighting front along Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen.
Their role will be to protect Saudi military installations against Houthi attacks and to repel any incursions into Saudi Arabia by the Houthis.