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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday condemned a foiled Houthi missile attack targeting a Saudi city and warned that repeated attacks by the Yemeni militia posed a threat to the holy places and the security of the kingdom.

“We are deeply concerned over media reports of a missile attack by the Houthi militia towards Khamis Mushait on Feb 5, 2018,” a Foreign Office statement said. Khamis Mushait is located in South West of Saudi Arabia, some 900 kilometres from capital Riyadh.

“The timely interception by the Saudi Air Defence saved the civilian populated city from grave consequences. Such attacks targeting the unarmed civilian population are a violation of international law and condemnable,” it added.

The Houthis launched several missiles targeting Saudi cities, but most of them were intercepted before they could hit the target.

The Foreign Office’s assertion that the Houthi attacks posed a threat to the security of the kingdom and the holy places suggests the position of Pakistan, which had previously refused to take sides in the Yemen war, on the issue is evolving.

Pakistan had declined participation in the Yemen war when the Saudi Arab began the offensive against the Houthis for reinstalling President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2015. However, it has always listed threat to the holy mosques as a red line.

Just last week, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa quietly toured the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he met Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Yemen war was said to be on the agenda of the meeting.

The development comes as US presented ‘evidence’ to the ambassadors of countries in UN Security Council that Iran had supplied missiles to the Houthis. The allegation was strongly rejected by Tehran and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had mocked at the evidence.

The Houthis have been carrying out the missile attacks in response to the war imposed by the US-backed and Saudi Arabia-led military coalition of Arab forces that killed more than 10,000 Yemenis and pushed the war-ravaged and poverty-stricken country to the brink of mass famine.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2018