ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government is mulling over plans to relocate its embassy in Yemen from Sana’a to the southern city of Aden.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, asked about reports of shifting of the embassy, said: “The situation is being monitored. No such decision.”
A source said Dr Irfan Shami, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Yemen, visited Aden a few days ago. However, it was not clear if he had met the team of beleaguered Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had resigned in January, but later retracted his decision.
Mr Hadi was detained after his resignation by Houthi militia which has been in control of the capital since late last year, but he later escaped and based himself in Aden, from where he is trying to establish a rival government.
The Pakistani embassy in Sana’a is manned by an eight-member team, including the ambassador.
A number of western missions have already closed down operations in Sana’a, citing security concerns. Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, have moved their missions to Aden to show that they still consider Mr Hadi as legitimate ruler of Yemen.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this week visited Saudi Arabia, where he held consultations with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud over the regional situation, including the rise of Houthi militia in Yemen.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia agreed to cooperate on security matters.
Riyadh perceives the takeover of Sana’a by Houthi militia as part of Tehran’s attempt to expand its regional influence.
Saudi Arabia, according to Longley Alley, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, has lost hope in the political process.
“It is aggressive in attempts to diplomatically isolate the Houthis and supports groups that will confront them militarily. It looks like Saudi Arabia is on the warpath,” he said in an interview with Council on Foreign Relations.
Relocating Pakistan’s embassy to Aden would be a clear signal on the part of Islamabad that it had decided to join the Saudi camp.
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2015