Saudi Arabia seemed to take it as a matter of course that Pakistan, like most Sunni countries across the Middle East, would cheerfully join their war in Yemen. Pakistan’s own media presented it this way early on too, until people started debating it.
Between the risk of getting sucked into a costly, open-ended war and the risk of alienating their significant Shi’ite minority, Pakistan decided on neutrality, noting that while they were on board for defense wars to protect the Saudis, they did not feel obliged to join wars of aggression on their behalf.
That’s not sitting well with the Saudis’ more willing partners, who are loudly lashing Pakistan, questioning their loyalty, and in the case of UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash, threatening to impose “high costs” on Pakistan for its neutrality.
“This moment of truth distinguishes true allies from media and rhetorical allies,” Gargash added. Pakistan didn’t take kindly to this, with Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan saying it was “contrary to all diplomatic norms” to threaten Pakistan in this manner.
Top Saudi aides were also critical of Pakistan’s offer to mediate ceasefire talks, saying that “amounts to helping the unjust” and that only a war that installs their preferred ruler in Yemen is an acceptable resolution.
Saudi military leaders insist they don’t need Pakistan, and that the invasion of Yemen will go just fine without them.