Pakistan rolls out red carpet for royal guest

Published: February 17, 2019
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PM Imran will personally receive Prince Mohammad at Nur Khan Airbase tomorrow. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

PM Imran will personally receive Prince Mohammad at Nur Khan Airbase tomorrow. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will arrive in Islamabad on Sunday (today) on his two-day visit to Pakistan. He will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation, including members of the royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen.

This will be the first state-level visit of Prince Mohammed to Pakistan since his elevation to the position of crown prince in April 2017. During his visit, he will meet President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

A Senate delegation will also call on the crown prince to discuss ways to enhance parliamentary cooperation between the two countries. The Saudi ministers, accompanying the crown prince, will meet their counterparts to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields.

All the arrangements have been put in place to accord a warm welcome to the visiting dignitary and his entourage. The prince will be warmly received by Prime Minister Khan at the airport. A red carpet will be rolled out at the Prime Minister House where he will be given a guard of honour.

During the royal visit, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will sign a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in diverse sectors. The two countries will also discuss ways to develop a robust follow-up mechanism to ensure quick progress in tangible areas of cooperation.

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal has said that the visit of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia “underscores that Pakistan has the potential in terms of both human and natural resources to turn itself into a strong and economically vibrant country”.

In a tweet, Dr Faisal said the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan would be launched during the visit, adding that the council would help in effective bilateral coordination to achieve mutually-agreed objectives.

Later in another tweet, Dr Faisal announced that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would also sign an Executive Programme for Media Cooperation to enhance and strengthen bilateral cooperation in the field of information and media.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said during the visit of Saudi crown prince, an MoU regarding the establishment of an integrated complex, petrochemical refinery would also be signed.

On sidelines of the visit, businessmen of the two countries would also meet to discuss collaboration in the private sector.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said elaborate security arrangements had been made for Saudi crown prince’s visit. In interviews with multiple Saudi news outlets, the minister said Crown Prince Mohammad would be conferred with Nishan-e-Pakistan — the highest civilian award of Pakistan.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s [recent] visits to Saudi Arabia have strengthened relations between the two sides,” Chaudhry said. “Pakistani citizens support the vision of the Saudi crown prince. A united stance will be adopted by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the future.”

He said Pakistan desired to turn historic relations with Saudi Arabia into a strong strategic partnership. He also said: “We are fully coordinating with Saudi information ministry in order to promote tolerance.”

The visit of the crown prince is expected to significantly enhance bilateral ties between the two countries in all spheres of cooperation. In times of difficulty and challenge, Saudi Arabia has always stood by Pakistan and come forward with generous support.

The two brotherly countries are each other’s strategic partners. Recently, Saudi Arabia deposited $3 billion in the State Bank of Pakistan as balance of payments support to Pakistan at the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Saudi Arabia has also agreed to provide deferred payment facility for import of oil up to $ 3billion. Negotiations between the two countries were also held on setting up an oil refinery in Gwadar by Saudi Arabia, entailing investment of up to $10 billion.

Saudi Arabia is home to the largest Pakistani community abroad. About 2.6 million, nearly one-third of Pakistani expatriates (28%), live in that country. Saudi Arabia is also the largest source of remittances to Pakistan with $4.8 billion receipts last year.

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