Pakistani leaders call for UN intervention as Houthis attack Saudi airport

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The picture shows smoke billowing from a tanker said to have been reportedly attacked off the coast of Oman on June 13, 2019 (AFP Photo/ via IRIB TV)
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Damage of Saudi Arabia's Abha airport is seen after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 12, 2019 - SPA
Updated 13 June 2019
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Pakistani leaders call for UN intervention as Houthis attack Saudi airport

  • 26 people injured by missile strike on civilian airport on Wednesday
  • Attacks on two oil tankers on Thursday in Gulf of Oman left one ablaze and both adrift

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ruling and opposition political parties on Thursday condemned a missile attack carried out by Houthi rebels on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, calling on the United Nations and world powers to take note of repeated assaults on the Kingdom that were endangering regional security.
The Houthis said on their media channels that they fired a cruise missile at Abha airport, which is located about 200 kilometers north of the border with Yemen and serves domestic and regional routes. At least 26 people were injured in the strike. 
Wednesday’s attack follows armed drone strikes last month on two oil-pumping stations in the Kingdom. On Thursday, attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman left one ablaze and both adrift and drove oil prices up 4% over worries about Middle East supplies. The attacks were the second in a month near the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway for world oil supplies.
Omar Sarfraz Cheema, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party’s central information secretary, said it was against the UN charter and international law to target civilians in any conflict. 
“We have always condemned Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and vow to stand by the Kingdom in case of any threat to its territorial integrity and sovereignty,” he told Arab News.
The civil war in Yemen has pitted the Houthis against the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi since 2014. A Saudi-led coalition intervened on the government’s side the following year, accusing Iran of supplying the Houthis with arms, including drones and missiles. 
Since the beginning of the four-year conflict, the Houthis have fired dozens of missiles into Saudi Arabia, most of which have been intercepted by the Saudi military.
“We want peace in the Middle East and urge the United Nations to ensure an immediate ceasefire,” Pakistan Peoples Party’s senior leader Taj Haider told Arab News.
He said simmering tensions in the Arabian Gulf could put the security and safety of the whole region at stake, and it was thus the responsibility of the international community to “help resolve the conflicts among the Arab states as quickly as possible.”
Senator Mushahidullah Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said the Houthis were trying to undermine the security and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia “on the behest of some other countries,” but they would never succeed in their designs.
“The conflict in Yemen and rising tensions in the Arabian Gulf region are in no one’s interest, and Muslim countries should try to resolve them amicably at the platform of the OIC [Organisation of Islamic Cooperation],” he told Arab News.
Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, a lawmaker belonging to the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, said Houthis and “some other powers” were trying to destabilize Saudi Arabia through missile and rocket attacks without knowing that “they are playing with the fire.”
Pakistan’s foreign office on Wednesday evening condemned the Houthis for their missile attack on the Abha airport.
“Pakistan reiterates its full support and solidarity with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any threats to its security and territorial integrity,” the foreign office said in a statement.


Pakistani PM names army chief to new national development council

Updated 18 June 2019
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Pakistani PM names army chief to new national development council

  • New body will formulate policies, approve long-term planning, provide guidelines for regional cooperation
  • The formal inclusion of the army chief in a development policy-making body is an unprecedented move

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the establishment of a new high-powered government body, the National Development Council (NDC), of which the country’s all-powerful army chief will be a member, a federal government notification issued on Tuesday said.
The memo said Khan would chair the eleven-member council comprising federal ministers, provincial chief ministers and federal secretaries. Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s formal inclusion in the body is unprecedented even by Pakistani standards, a country in which the military has ruled for almost half its history.
The council includes the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federal Minister for Finance/Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform, Federal Minister for Commerce/Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Industries & Production and Investment, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary Foreign Affairs Division, Secretary, Finance Division, Secretary, Planning, Development & Reforms Division and the four provincial chief ministers.
The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister, and the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan will be also be members of the body on invitation. The additional secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office will be the secretary of the council.
Defining the terms of reference (ToRs) of the council, the notification said it would set “policies and strategies for development, formulate and trailer policies to achieve accelerate economic growth, approve long term planning for national and regional connectivity and provide guidelines for regional cooperation.”