Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was scheduled to visit Pakistan on Saturday along with a business delegation having big-ticket investment potential, has cut short his visit a day after 40 CRPF soldiers were killed in a car bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama. The attack has been claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose chief Masood Azhar is roaming freely in Pakistan.
Prince Mohammed will arrive in Pakistan on Sunday, sources said.
The Islamabad-based Board of Investment, which works under the aegis of Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a statement to invitees said the Pakistan-Saudi businesses conference scheduled on February 17 has been postponed. “Any inconvenience caused in this regard is highly regretted. The new dates of the meeting will be informed in due course of time,” it said.
In October last year, Saudi Arabia offered Pakistan a $6 billion loan to help keep its ailing economy afloat. Saudi Arabia has also announced plans for a $10 billion refinery and petrochemical complex at the coastal city of Gwadar, where China is building a port as part of its Belt and Road initiative, another part of which is the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a project that India says runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and violates India’s sovereignty.
“They (Saudis) are looking at the energy sector, at some of our privatization plans that they might bid for through our privatization process,” Pakistani investment minister Haroon Sharif told news agency Reuters on Tuesday.
India has appealed to the international community to put pressure on Pakistan to come clean on links with terror groups and stop providing shelter to them on its soil.
Indian officials are in touch with the envoys of the United Nation P5 countries – which includes China – the Gulf, Japan and European nations to brief them about Pakistan’s role in sponsoring terror, sources have told NDTV. The P5 refers to the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members – United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France and China.
Twenty-five heads of mission of countries including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal also met at the foreign ministry in Delhi this evening and agreed that Pakistan must immediately stop financing terror groups, according to news agency ANI.
India wants the United Nations Security Council to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, a move that China has been blocking.
Prince Mohammed is expected in Delhi next week, along with leading Saudi businessmen, at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi met the Prince in November last year, when they were both in Argentina for a Group of 20 (G20) summit. Though Saudi Arabia remains India’s top crude oil supplier, the two countries have expanded ties beyond energy, and their governments have agreed to build a strategic partnership, the foreign ministry said last week.