Pak denies rift with Saudi Arabia
Islamabad. The Pakistani Army on Thursday rejected any rift with Saudi Arabia and said the upcoming visit of Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to the kingdom was pre-planned. Army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar addressed the media in Rawalpindi where he was asked about a media report that General Bajwa was going to Riyadh to fix some irritants in bilateral ties.
The hearts of the Pakistani people beat with the Saudi people, so there is no need to raise questions on the relations, he said. He said the upcoming visit of General Bajwa to Saudi Arabia was pre-planned and it was about military-to-military relations.
There is no need to read too much into it. Everything is fine, he said. Official sources said that Bajwa was expected to travel to the kingdom on Sunday. Earlier, it was reported that historic ties between the two nations were under stress as Saudis were reluctant to call a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the Kashmir issue.
Last week, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed his frustration in a TV interview when he warned that Pakistan would be forced to call a special meeting of the OIC. The OIC is dominated by the Arab block led by Riyadh and due to increasing warmth in ties with India, Saudi and the UAE rulers are apparently not willing to oblige Pakistan.
In 2018, Saudi Arabia gave Pakistan a USD 3 billion loan and USD 3.2 billion oil credit facility to help its balance of payments crisis. Pakistan has already paid back USD 1 billion two weeks ago to Saudi Arabia which has not so far obliged a request to extend the oil facility on deferred payments. Reportedly, Riyadh was demanding payment of another USD 1 billion.