• publish: 18 August 2020
  • time: 1:55 pm
  • category: International
  • No: 14869
During Pakistani army chief’s visit to Riyadh

Saudi Prince Khalid met with Bajwa

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud met on Monday with Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Riyadh to discuss a number of issues including that of military cooperation and regional stability.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, they reviewed bilateral relations, especially on the military and defense side, and sought to enhance joint cooperation to maintain security and stability, in addition to issues of common concern.

“Met today with my brother, H.E. General Qamar Bajwa, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff. We discussed bilateral relations, military cooperation, and our common vision for preserving regional security,” Prince Khalid said in a tweet following the meeting.

This comes during a time of strained relations between the two longtime allies and although the official line was that the visit was “pre-planned,” many reports indicate it was an attempt to ease Riyadh’s displeasure over rare criticism from Islamabad of the Kingdom’s lukewarm reaction to the situation in disputed Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene a meeting over the issue. 

However, Saudi has failed to do so, which prompted a harsh response from Islamabad. 

Qureshi warned that if the OIC failed to assist, Pakistan would call its own meeting of Muslim countries “which want to support us on the Kashmir issue.”

According to him, Pakistan had skipped a summit in Malaysia last year with a “heavy heart” because of Saudi Arabia’s reservations. 

Very few details have however been released over Bajwa’s visit to the Kingdom but diplomatic sources said the general was accompanied by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and that the two are expected to hold high-level meetings.

In one statement on Monday, the Pakistani Army said Bajwa had met with Al-Rowaily and Lt. Gen. Fahad bin Turki Al Saud, Commander Joint Forces, to discuss “military to military ties, including training exchanges.”

Speaking to journalists ahead of Bajwa’s departure on Monday, Major General Babar Iftikhar, the Pakistani army’s spokesman, said: “There is no need to read too much into it. Thank God, everything is fine,”

Iftikhar stated Pakistan and its people “are proud of their relations” with Saudi Arabia, and that there was no need to raise any question about them. 

 “These relations are historic, very important, excellent and will remain excellent. There should be no doubt of this. Nobody can doubt the centrality of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Islamic world,” Iftikhar stressed. 

But ties have been strained with Saudi Arabia which appears to have led to Pakistan turning to China last month to borrow $1 billion to repay part of a $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia – which was used to prop up Islamabad’s depleting foreign reserves, apart from a $3 billion oil credit facility.

Pakistan’s Finance Ministry last week confirmed that Riyadh was reviewing Islamabad’s request for an extension of the oil credit facility, which ended in July.

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