Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir on Tuesday informed the National Assembly that 1, 671 Pakistani armed forces personnel have been deployed in Saudi Arabia followed by 629 in Qatar and 66 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In his written reply Dastgir said 912 personnel are deployed under the Saudi Ministry of Defence while 759 under the Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom.
In further breakdown of the statistics, the minister told the lower house that 742 out of 912 personnel belong to the army, 108 are from the navy and 62 from the air force. Out of the 759 officials from armed forces working under the Saudi Ministry of Interior, 653 are from military, 56 from naval forces and 50 from the air force.
Moreover, the Pakistani forces are serving in seven other countries, the minister mentioned in his reply.
After Saudi Arabia the highest number of Pakistani military personnel are deployed in Qatar with the total of 629; 155 are from the army, 433 from navy and 107 are from the air force, the minister added.
Furthermore, only one Pakistani soldier is deployed in Australia, 15 in Bahrain, four in Brunei and six in Jordan.
According to the minister, the personnel are deployed in these countries under different MoUs and agreements with the respective countries.
In February this year, Pakistan Army announced that it was deploying troops in Saudi Arabia under an existing bilateral security pact. The army made it clear that its contingent will take part in training and advice mission in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has been demanding deployment of Pakistani troops since the start of the Yemen conflict in 2015, but Pakistan has been struggling to evade the demand despite a unanimously adopted parliamentary resolution affirming the country’s “neutrality” in the conflict.
Last year, Pakistan sent its retired army chief Gen Raheel Sharif to lead a Saudi coalition. Therefore, it was always speculated that the deployment would take place even though it could not happen as quickly as the Saudis wanted.
The ISPR insists that the new deployment and nearly 1,000 Pakistani troops already stationed there would not be “employed outside the KSA”.