Pakistan Approves Agreement Draft To Provide Troops For World Cup Security In Qatar

On August 22, 2022, it was announced that a draft agreement was approved by Pakistan’s cabinet to supply security forces for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, scheduled to begin in November. Qatar had requested security support for the event, and Pakistan’s military suggested creating and signing the agreement as a solution. As of now, it is unknown how many troops will be provided to Qatar. Pakistan’s aid will be in addition to Turkey’s commitment to send 3,250 security officers, as well as some NATO personnel and a small number of Seoul police officers that specialize in counterterrorism. 

According to Reuters, the agreement explains that it “aims to define the obligations of the two parties, the specific specializations, and the number of security personnel to be sent by Pakistan to participate in the security and safety operations.” The announcement of the accordance comes just days before Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif embarks on a two-day visit to Qatar. On the day of the announcement, Sharif tweeted, “Leaving for Qatar today at the invitation of my brother HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The visit will renew the bond of brotherhood & friendship between our two countries. We want to transform our historical bilateral relationship into a more robust strategic relationship.” 

It is currently unclear why Qatar requested security aid from Pakistan specifically for the event. While it’s crucial that the large international event has proper security, some Pakistani citizens met the announcement with confusion, questioning on social media platforms why their army is ‘on rent’ or ‘for sale’ to another country. Others interpret it as an honour to provide security in Qatar for such an iconic event. Ultimately, it is important that those that have committed to keeping the World Cup safe for all parties involved do their job efficiently. When NATO announced earlier this year that they will also be providing security assistance, they emphasized that “the support will include training against threats posed by chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) materials. It will also include training for the protection of very important people (VIPs) and to counter threats posed by improvised explosive devices. Additionally, the agreement is an opportunity to further develop the relationship between Pakistan and Qatar, which Pakistan’s Prime Minister has demonstrated is an interest and priority of his, demonstrated by the Prime Minister’s planned Qatar visit and tweeted message on August 22nd. 

This will be the first time that the FIFA World Cup will be held in the Middle East. It will begin November 20th and last through December 18th. It was recently announced that Pakistan is also to receive $2 billion in bilateral support from Qatar, which may serve as an incentive for agreeing to provide troops for the World Cup event. Pakistan’s economy has long-standing structural weaknesses and significant government debt. An International Monetary Fund board meeting is scheduled to take place on August 29th, in which members are to discuss the approval of a disbursement of funding for Pakistan. 

As Prime Minister Sharif will embark on his visit to Qatar and the World Cup security agreement will be officially signed by both countries, more details should become clear as to why Pakistan has agreed to provide troops over the coming weeks. Crucially, with 32 participating nations in the World Cup and over 800,000 tickets sold globally, it is essential that the World Cup is a safe environment for all involved.