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Protesters slam Pakistan role in Saudi-led coalition

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Pakistani Shia collects placards during an anti-Saudi rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, January 8, 2016. ©AP

Pakistanis have taken to the streets in Islamabad to express their anger at the government’s decision to join a Saudi-led coalition allegedly set up to counter terrorism.

Protesters presented a memorandum to the Pakistani Foreign Office, calling on Islamabad to withdraw from the Saudi-led alliance.

The demonstrators said Islamabad had agreed to join the Saudi-led coalition for money.

“Neither the Pakistan army nor the nation is for rent, we will oppose any attempts to sell the army to the House of Saud for a few billion riyals,” Gul-e-Zahra, a senior activist, said in an address to the rally.

Last December, Saudi Arabia said it had formed an alliance of 34 countries to combat terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and Syria. 

The kingdom has long been accused of supporting terror groups operating against the Damascus government.

Meanwhile, some of the key countries in the coalition have said they were surprised by inclusion in the group without their knowledge. 

At the time when the coalition was announced, Pakistan reacted cautiously and said it needed further details before deciding the extent of its participation.

In a U-turn following the two-day visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Islamabad said Thursday it would join the Saudi-led coalition. 

“Pakistan welcomes Saudi Arabia’s initiative and supports all such regional and international efforts to counter terrorism and extremism,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.

A woman holds a sign for prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during a protest rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, January 8, 2016. ©Reuters

Pakistanis are also angry at the Saudi regime’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

On Friday, people staged a demonstration, chanting slogans against Saudi Arabia. They had staged another demonstration a day earlier to protest Saudi foreign minister’s arrival in Islamabad.

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