Pakistan parliament votes to remain neutral in Yemen conflict

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan's parliament on Friday urged the government to stay out of the conflict in Yemen, rejecting Saudi demands for Islamabad to join its coalition against Shiite Houthi rebels.

A unanimous resolution passed by a special session of parliament backed the government's commitment to protect Saudi Arabia's territory, which has so far not been threatened by the conflict.

But it said Pakistan should play a mediating role and not get involved in fighting - turning down longstanding ally Riyadh's request for troops, ships and warplanes.

"Parliament of Pakistan... underscores the need for continued efforts by the government of Pakistan to find a peaceful resolution of the crisis," the resolution said.

"(Parliament) desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis." The motion came after five days of debate on the Yemen crisis, in which the majority of lawmakers urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to send Pakistani forces to join the fight.

Pakistan has pushed diplomatic efforts in the past week, holding talks with Turkish and Iranian officials to try to forge a way ahead.

Friday's resolution urged the government to begin work in the UN Security Council and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation bloc to bring about a ceasefire.