Saudi crown prince postpones visit to Pak amid political crisis

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS) has postponed his long-awaited visit to Pakistan yet again, with sources suggesting Sunday that the decision was made due to incessant political, social, financial, and administrative crises in the cash-starved country.
The crown prince’s visit to Pakistan was expected before or after his scheduled visit to Japan from May 20 to 23.
While authorities have kept mum over the postponement of the visit, the sources said the crown prince was quite upset with the political developments in Pakistan, particularly with statements of some politicians trying to drag Saudi Arabia into the country’s internal matters.
“It appears the feedback of Saudi high-ups, who had made visits to Pakistan in recent weeks, has played a key part in cancellation of the visit. The Saudi ministers, seemingly, have convinced the crown prince that political situation in Pakistan is not stable, tensions run high between the military and jailed ex-PM Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), and it would be unwise for him to visit the country in the current situation,” said Shehbaz Gill, a PTI functionary and Imran’s former principal staff officer.
Last month, PTI functionary Sher Afzal Marwat had alleged that Saudi Arabia was a “conduit” in the US-led operation to oust Imran’s govt in April 2022. Following his claim, PTI removed him from its core and political committee, also issuing a show-cause for trying to harm relations with Saudi Arabia.
Recently, Marwat blamed the “Saudi influence” for his party dropping his name for chairmanship of public accounts committee (PAC) of parliament.
While foreign ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the revised schedule of the visit is still being worked out, govt sources maintained that there were some points on the economic front that still needed to be cleared between both sides before MBS finalised his tour.
They said Saudi investors and businessmen, who recently toured Pakistan, are interested in some projects but the terms of the agreement have not yet been finalised.
PM Shehbaz Sharif had extended an invitation to the crown prince to visit Pakistan during his official tour to Saudi Arabia. The two sides were expected to sign a number of MoUs during the visit, as Pakistan is hoping for a huge investment package from the oil-rich kingdom.
MBS had earlier cancelled his visit to Pakistan in Nov 2022. He had last visited Pakistan in Feb 2019 when Imran was PM.


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