Saudi Crown Prince likely to visit Pakistan in November

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Islamabad–┬áSaudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammad bin Salman is expected to travel to Islamabad next month on a crucial visit Pakistan is hoping will lead to yet another financial bailout package from the oil-rich Arab nation, the media reported.

Though officials are tight-lipped and not sharing details of the visit, sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that the two countries were in touch to prepare for the visit.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif invited the Saudi de facto ruler on a visit to Pakistan when he visited Saudi Arabia in July.

The visit comes at a time when the coalition government led by Shehbaz is facing an imminent long march of former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan and when Saudi Arabia is involved in a diplomatic row with the US over the recent cut in oil supplies by major exporting countries.

Pakistan in a surprise and significant move took a public stance on the US-Saudi row and backed Riyadh’s position, Express Tribune reported.

“To me it was quite unprecedented and surprising when Pakistan took a public position on an issue where we don’t have any direct role,” commented a policy expert, who previously worked with the government to bring investment in the country. He requested not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

But the statement in favour of Saudi Arabia at this juncture may help Pakistan get the much needed financial support from Riyadh.

The US has been furious over the OPEC+ move to cut oil supplies by 2 million barrels a day despite request by President Joe Biden to the contrary.

Biden warned that Saudi Arabia will have to face consequences of the decision and that his administration would revisit the 80-year long bilateral relationship with the Arab country.

Against this backdrop, the visit of the Saudi crown prince would be closely watched.

Sources said the government was keen to revive the multi-billion dollar investment plan that Saudi Arabia had agreed to do in Pakistan when MBS visited Islamabad in February 2019, Express Tribune reported. (IANS)

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