Pakistan hopes Saudi crown prince will make stopover during India visit

Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan is pushing for the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is expected to travel to India later this week to attend the G-20 summit in New Delhi, according to a media report.

Though the Foreign Office is tight-lipped over the possible stopover by the Saudi de facto ruler as he travels to New Delhi to attend the summit, the sources in the PM Office did not rule out the possibility, according to the Express Tribune newspaper.

“Nothing is official yet but there are signals that the Saudi crown prince may travel to Pakistan during his visit to India,” said a source at the Prime Minister Office.

There was no confirmation from either side as sources said there was a possibility that both sides wanted to keep the visit under wraps till the last moment.

However, if the visit is materialised that would be only for a few hours, according to sources.

The reason Pakistan is keen that the Saudi crown prince undertakes a visit to Islamabad, even for a few hours, is to avoid a possible public backlash. Many countries, particularly the big powers, have in recent years de-hyphenated Pakistan and India relationship with the exception of Gulf states that still maintain a certain balance with regard to their relations with the two nations.

In February 2019, when the Saudi crown prince visited India, he also travelled to Pakistan.

Officials feel that if the Saudi ruler skips the Pakistan trip while travelling to India that would invite a public backlash. The Saudi crown prince is not only attending the G20 summit, slated for September 9 and 10, but will stay back in Delhi for a day on a state visit.

In this situation, it has become even more important for Pakistan that he visits the country, sources said.

The other factor due to which Pakistan is pushing for the visit is because it considers Saudi Arabia a key player for its economic revival plan. Pakistan has set up a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to attract foreign investment, particularly from the Gulf countries.

The visit of the Saudi crown prince would help that cause, as per the sources.

At a weekly briefing last Thursday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said there was no announcement from either side about the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to Pakistan.

The Saudi crown prince had earlier postponed his visit to Pakistan in November last year. 

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024