World Bulletin / News Desk
Oil-rich Kuwait has requested to open a defense office in Islamabad to “boost defense ties” with the only nuclear Muslim state, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
If the request - including the recruitment of soldiers for Kuwait’s army - is granted, Kuwait will be the fourth Gulf Cooperation Council country, following Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, with a defense wing in Islamabad.
“The request is being evaluated; however no decision has so far been taken in this regard,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam told reporters.
But a senior foreign office official who wished not to be named told Anadolu Agency that the two countries had agreed on the issue in principle.
Kuwait is also seeking Pakistani army trainers to train its small army comprised of around 11,000 soldiers, the official added.
Five major Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain - have already been engaged in close defense cooperation with Pakistan, which has not provided a large amount of manpower for their armies, but has played an active role in training their soldiers.
In return, the official said Kuwait was going to relax the visa restrictions it had imposed six months ago.
Although Qatar and Bahrain do not have defense offices in Islamabad, their armies consist of a sizable number of Pakistani soldiers.
The small Gulf state Bahrain, which has been facing mass protests from Shiites, has recruited hundreds of retired Pakistani army personnel despite Pakistan’s government having no official policy to provide work force to foreign armies.
These soldiers have reportedly played a leading role in quelling the mass protests in Bahrain, inviting the ire of neighboring Iran.
Many believe that the recruitment of retired Pakistani soldiers reveals tacit support from the Pakistani government as most of the troops have been recruited through two welfare subsidiaries of Pakistan’s armed forces.
Last month, Saudi Arabia provided 1.5 billion dollars to Pakistan as a “gift” that helped the weak Pak rupee gain an all-time high against the US dollar.
Despite the government insisting that the assistance was merely a gift from a “brotherly Muslim country,” many see it as a bid to seek Pakistan’s military cooperation in connection with Saudi policy towards Syria.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, however, has already denied reports that his country will send troops to any country, including Syria.Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Nisan 2014, 09:34