Pakistan would side with Saudi Arabia in the fast-changing situation in the Middle East because the kingdom had always supported the country in the face of every difficult situation, Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said on Saturday.
Addressing a ceremony to distribute aid among the deserving people of Azad Kashmir, organised by the International Islamic Relief Organisation, the minister said Saudi Arabia was a friend and it had always given importance to Pakistan.
The minister did not mention the killing of an Iranian general in a US strike in Iraq and the Saudi-Iranian tensions. “We are proud of our friendship with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia helped us on every occasion,” he told the ceremony, also attended by the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Al-Maliki.
The minister said that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had also supported Pakistan in the time of need. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia launched relief operation for the cold-affected people in northern regions.
The minister spoke a day after the Foreign Office issued a carefully-drafted statement, expressing “deep concern with the recent developments in the Middle East, which seriously threaten peace and stability in the region”.
The Foreign Office did not explicitly mention the assassination of Maj-Gen Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad on Friday. “Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity are the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, which should be adhered to,” the statement said.