Amid tensions with India, Pakistan welcomes the Saudi Crown Prince
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is slated to arrive in Pakistan on Sunday, despite earlier concerns about him calling his visit off in the wake of the Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir. While MbS has rescheduled his trip, the duration of the two-day trip has not been altered, and the Crown Prince will attend all scheduled meetings. Here are the details.
Following the Pulwama attack, which has been claimed by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), there was concern in the inner circles of the Pakistan government about MbS' visit. With Saudi Arabia, and much of the international community, having condemned the attack, the Pakistani government was apprehensive about MbS calling off the trip for security concerns.
Now that MbS will finally arrive, it has been reported that the he will be given a red carpet welcome by the cash-strapped Pakistan government and will be presented a guard of honor at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's official residence on his arrival. Reportedly, Khan himself, along with some cabinet member will receive the Crown Prince at the airport.
Given the shortage of funds the Pakistan government is facing, Islamabad is expected to welcome MbS with open arms, as the Crown Prince is expected to sign investment agreements worth more than $10bn. Earlier, too, Saudi Arabia had come to the aid of Pakistan and had helped keep the country's economy afloat through a $6bn loan aimed at propping up its foreign exchange reserves.
Notably, MbS is set to become the first guest to stay in Khan's official residence. It's expected that the visit will strengthen ties between the two countries, who have shared a sort of a symbiotic relationship thus far. While Saudia Arabia provides financial assistance to Pakistan, the powerful Pakistani army reciprocates by lending support to the Saudi royal family, which enjoys considerable clout in Pakistan.
That said, MbS visit to Pakistan comes at a time when India has vowed to isolate Islamabad internationally, as retaliation against the Pulwama attack. However, Pakistan has denied having a hand in the attack. Further, both India, and the US has called on Pakistan to take action against JeM and other terror outfits that have taken shelter in the country.