Pakistan’s army chief will visit Saudi Arabia this weekend, officials said, seeking to calm and fix diplomatic strains over Kashmir as financial support for Islamabad hangs in the balance.
The two countries are traditionally close. Saudi Arabia in 2018 gave Pakistan a $3 billion loan and $3.2 billion oil credit facility to help its balance of payments crisis. But Riyadh is irked by criticism from Pakistan that Saudi Arabia has been cool on the Kashmir issue. Due to which Saudi Arabia disowned Pakistan. But now Pakistan’s army chief is visiting Saudi Arabia to fix the broken ties between them.
“Yes he is travelling,” Pakistan army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar told Reuters.
Broken Pak-Saudi Ties
India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Pakistan has long pressed the Saudi-led Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to convene a high-level meeting to highlight Indian violations in IOK. But the OIC has only held low-level meetings so far.
“If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told local media last week.
Money at stake
Last year, Islamabad had pulled out of a summit in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur at the last minute on insistence by Riyadh.
Qureshi’s remarks have revived Riyadh’s anger, one of the Pakistani military officials and a government advisor said.
Saudia Arabia had already made Pakistan pay back $1 billion two weeks ago, forcing it to borrow from China. Riyadh is yet to respond to Pakistan’s request to extend the oil credit facility.
Saudi Arabia is also asking for another $1 billion back, officials at Pakistan’s finance ministry, and one of the military officers said. Pakistanis account for more than a quarter of the 10 million expatriates working in Saudi Arabia. Let’s see how long both the governments will this time take to mend their dented ties and let’s hope that our army chief fix our broken ties with Saudi Arabia.
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