Tensions in the Middle East are expanding to Asia, with Pakistan, a nuclear power, standing beside Saudi Arabia against Iran.
Pakistani army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif has reiterated that any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity will would evoke a sharp response. He said Pakistan would “wipe Iran off the map.”
Sharif made the remarks Sunday in a statement after Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman visited him in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, adjacent to the capital.
Salman earlier arrived in Islamabad, making him the second top Saudi official to visit Pakistan in a week amid growing tension with Iran.
The prince is also expected to meet with other Pakistani leaders. The visits came after Saudi Arabia and several of its allies announced the severing or downgrading of diplomatic relations with Shiite powerhouse Iran.
Pakistan, a predominantly Sunni state, also has a large Shiite population.
The bilateral relations between the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are historically close and extremely friendly, occasionally described as constituting a special relationship. Pakistan has been called “Saudi Arabia’s closest Muslim ally.
Pakistan’s current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif enjoys exceptionally close ties with senior members of the Saudi royal family.
Pakistan maintains close military ties with Saudi Arabia, providing extensive support, arms and training for the Saudi Arabian military.
Pakistan, unlike Saudi Arabia, attains nuclear weapons.
Saudi Arabia has reportedly negotiated the purchase of Pakistani ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. It is also speculated that Saudi Arabia secretly funded Pakistan’s atomic bomb program and seeks to purchase atomic weapons from Pakistan to enable it to counter possible threats from Iran.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff