ISLAMABAD: Saudi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir on Thursday paid a daylong visit to Islamabad as part of Riyadh’s efforts to seek de-escalation in tensions between Pakistan and India.
Al-Jubeir met Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to convey an ‘important message’ from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Pakistan’s civil and military leadership, officials familiar with the development told The Express Tribune.
It is believed that Saudi Arabia is trying to mediate between Pakistan and India in the wake their current military standoff. His visit was also part of diplomatic efforts spearheaded by the United States to prevent any further escalation in the crises between the two nuclear armed neighbours.
There were no specific details available yet but sources said the top Saudi diplomat discussed the possible steps Pakistan might take to defuse tensions with India.
The Saudi deputy foreign minister was briefed in Islamabad about the steps Pakistan had taken to ease tensions.
Al-Jubeir appreciated Pakistan’s efforts particularly releasing the Indian fighter pilot, who was captured after his warplane was shot down by the Pakistani Air Force on February 27 a day after India launched the so-called air strikes, targeting the terrorist camps in Balakot.
Saudi Arabia has emerged as key player in the recent Indo-Pak tensions given the fact that it now enjoys close ties with both the countries.
Last month, the Saudi crown Prince Muhammad Ben Salman visited Islamabad and New Delhi and announced making investments of billions of dollars in both the countries.
Observers believe that increased Saudi economic ties with India have helped Riyadh play more proactive role in seeking peace between Pakistan and India.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office said Al-Jubeir conveying sincere wishes of the Saudi crown prince to the leadership and the people of Pakistan, expressed deep appreciation for Pakistan’s “restraint in the existing charged environment.”
“Taking note of Pakistan’s peace overtures to de-escalate the situation, he assured the foreign minister of the kingdom’s support to seek peaceful settlement of all outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India,” the statement added.
The foreign minister, while welcoming Al-Jubeir expressed appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s steadfast support to Pakistan, especially the crown prince’s offer to help resolve the current standoff between the two neighbours.
With regard to the crown prince’s landmark visit to Pakistan last month, Qureshi appreciated the announcement of the release of 2,107 Pakistani prisoners, increase in the Hajj quota to 200,000 and Road to Mecca Project.
He expressed confidence that the establishment of Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council will help advance bilateral relations in a targeted and time bound manner.
A separate statement issued by the PM Office said the prime minister told Al-Jubeir that the crown prince had "won the hearts of the Pakistani people by his generous offer of support to Pakistani community.”
"Expressing satisfaction over the progress towards medium- and long-term economic and investment cooperation, the prime minister hoped that the newly-launched the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council will help build a comprehensive, tangible and result oriented relationship between the two countries," the statement said.
The Saudi minister also visited the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and met the Army chief.
“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security and current situation between Pakistan and India were discussed," according to a press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The military’s media wing said that the "visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s positive role for regional peace and stability and reaffirmed KSA’s support to Pakistan".
General Bajwa, according to the ISPR, thanked Al-Jubeir "for taking on the mantle of peace effort in very difficult circumstances", and said that Saudi Arabia "has always been a true friend of Pakistan.”