[JURIST] In a unanimous vote on Friday, Pakistani lawmakers [official website] passed a resolution [text] to stay out of the conflict in Yemen, despite pleas from Saudi Arabia for aid in the form of warships, aircraft and ground troops. Saudi Arabia is leading the campaign against Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen [JURIST news archive], and had anticipated assistance from its longstanding Sunni ally. Pakistani lawmakers decided the nation should stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Saudi Arabia, offering diplomatic assistance to defuse the conflict and potential military assistance if Saudi Arabia’s borders are compromised or holy cities Mecca and Medina are threatened. Despite Saudi Arabia’s considerable economic contribution [Reuters report] to Pakistan last year, Pakistan chose neutrality, likely in an effort to maintain relations with Iran, which controls energy resources in the area. At least 643 people have been killed and thousands more injured since the beginning of the conflict last year.
The rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen has sparked major international concern. Earlier this month, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani urged [JURIST report] the international community to prepare itself for the “massive displacement and humanitarian crisis” that could come as a result of civilians fleeing the fighting in Yemen, stating that they must prepare for a worst case scenario. Also this month, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valarie Amos expressed concern [JURIST report] for the safety of civilians in Yemen. Human Rights Watch and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have also each recently expressed concern [JURIST report] for civilian lives as Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen have continued. In March, during an emergency meeting, the UN special envoy to Yemen warned [JURIST report] the UN security Council that the situation in Yemen is teetering on the brink of civil war. In February UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] Yemen to reinstate President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.