Bahrain king to visit JSHQ today

Updated March 19, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa will make an unprecedented visit on Wednesday to the Joint Services Headquarters (JSHQ) in Rawalpindi.

The king arrived on Tuesday on a three-day visit, leading a 21-member delegation which includes his top defence and internal security chiefs.

Pakistan has been looking at the visit as an opportunity for expanding trade and promoting investment links but Bahrain appears more interested in bolstering defence relationship.

A Bahraini official, meanwhile, said that in his talks with Pakistani leaders the king would touch upon current “regional and international developments as well as issues of mutual interest”.

It is routine for Pakistani services chiefs to pay courtesy calls on foreign heads of state and government while visiting Islamabad, but a trip by a foreign leader to the JSHQ is exceptional. At the JSHQ, King Hamad will meet the three services chiefs.

A source said that the king would discuss reinforcement of defence cooperation between the two countries.

Pakistan had in 2011 helped Bahrain quell an uprising against the monarchy by sending security personnel recruited through military’s welfare wings – Fauji Foundation and Bahria Foundation.

Moreover, Pakistan had previously aided Bahrain in setting up its naval forces and 18 per cent of the Gulf state’s air force comprises Pakistani personnel. It is estimated that over 10,000 Pakistanis are serving in security services of Bahrain.

The Bahrain government had in the past expressed interest in procuring defence equipment from Pakistan.

The king began his visit by meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House.

He said Pakistan and Bahrain enjoy “close and cordial relations based on mutual trust and understanding”.