Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is due on May 7 to start a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, a traditional ally but with whom relations have been strained recently.

Khan was invited by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, Islamabad has said.

Islamabad sought Saudi Arabia’s support over alleged human rights violations by India in the disputed territory of Kashmir, but Pakistan’s insistence irked the kingdom, which is careful not to upset India, a key business partner and importer of Saudi oil.

Saudi Arabia then pushed Khan’s government to repay a $3 billion loan and a $3.2 billion oil credit facility granted in late 2018, prompting Pakistan to turn to China for financial assistance.

Prior to Khan’s arrival, Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Saudi Arabia and spoke to bin Salman early on May 7, Pakistan’s military said in a statement.

The two sides “discussed ways to enhance joint cooperation to maintain security and stability,” Saudi state media reported.

Saudi Arabia was the first foreign country Khan visited after his election in 2018 and he has visited the kingdom five times since, most recently in December 2019.

Khan is due to meet Saudi leaders in the Red Sea city of Jeddah during his visit.

Khan’s visit is expected to focus on the treatment of the 2.5 million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia and on enhancing economic ties with the Arab world’s largest economy.

“I look forward to my visit to Saudi Arabia and hope my interaction with the Saudi leadership will further strengthen our bilateral relations and will open further avenues for building a strong economic partnership,” Khan wrote in the Saudi daily Arab News.

Courtesy: Gandhara

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