Twin cities to see airspace closure, partial suspension of cellular services during MBS visit

Updated February 13, 2019

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The crown prince, at the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, will visit Pakistan on Feb 16 and 17. Mohammad bin Salman will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation including other members of the royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen. ─ Reuters/File
The crown prince, at the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, will visit Pakistan on Feb 16 and 17. Mohammad bin Salman will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation including other members of the royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen. ─ Reuters/File

Airspace will be shut down, cellphone services partially suspended and main routes closed to heavy traffic in Islamabad and Rawalpindi over the weekend to ensure security during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's upcoming two-day visit to Pakistan, police sources told DawnNewsTV on Wednesday.

The crown prince, at the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, will visit Pakistan on Feb 16 and 17. Mohammad bin Salman will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation including other members of the royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen.

During his stay, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will be signing a number of agreements and MoUs related to diverse sectors, including investment, finance, power, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports.

According to an Arab News report quoting Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the crown prince will be the first state guest to stay at the official residence of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Chaudhry said the crown prince's own security team would be guarding PM House during his stay, alongside on-duty Pakistani security officials.

As part of security measures planned for the crown prince's visit, there will be over 1,000 check points set up in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and law enforcement officials will be posted along the twin cities' main routes, from which heavy traffic will be barred for two days. The metro bus service will remain restricted to Rawalpindi, the sources said.

Additionally, shoot-on-sight orders have been issued for drones and other remote-controlled aviation toys, the sources added.

Arab News reported that Saudi security and intelligence officials are expected to be present across the capital for the two days that the crown prince is visiting.

According to security sources, luxury vehicles from Saudi Arabia were brought to Nur Khan Airbase on two C-130 aircraft on Wednesday. The cars include seven BMW 7 series and one Land Cruiser.

The crown prince's personal belongings have been transported to Prime Minister House in eight containers, sources told DawnNewsTV.

Sources said as many as 750 rooms have been booked in eight Islamabad hotels for the Saudi guests. The hotels have been given orders to cancel advance bookings. A day before the Saudi delegation's arrival, the hotels will be closed for security clearance and officials will take control of the hotels' security. No one will be able to use the hotels until the delegation's arrival, the sources added.

They said the crown prince will be accompanied by a 40-member delegation and a contingent of royal guards on the plane when he travels to Pakistan.

The Islamabad Expressway will be shut for the VVIP movement, while the route from Koral Chowk to Faisal Avenue 15 u-turn will be shut down at various times.

Murree Road ─ from the Faizabad Interchange to Serena Chowk will remain closed, while Shahrah-i-Dastoor will be shut down from Radio Pakistan to Serena Hotel.

Traffic from Peshawar, Kahuta and Murree will be diverted to an alternative route, the sources said.

Sources in the capital administration suggested that those going to offices or schools leave their homes earlier than usual in order to avoid facing inconvenience.

Saudi cabinet authorises officials to sign MoUs in Pakistan

Ahead of the trip, the Saudi cabinet authorised the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources and his deputy to wrap up talks and sign MoUs with Pakistani officials for the development of renewable energy projects, studies into investment opportunities in the petrochemical and recycling, and mineral resources sectors, the Saudi Gazette reported.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage was also authorised to discuss and sign an agreement for cooperation in the antique and museum fields with the Department of Archaeology and Museums, the Gazette report added.

Crown prince's agenda

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is expected to call on President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Khan, and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during his trip.

The Saudi ministers accompanying him will meet their counterparts to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields.

On the sidelines of the visit, businessmen of the two countries will also meet to discuss opportunities of collaboration in the private sector.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Arab News that a reception will be hosted in the crown prince's honour at President House. The prime minister, army chief, all top ministers, bureaucrats and important personalities in the country as well as members of the royal entourage will be in attendance, he said.

Additionally, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman will co-chair meetings of various joint working groups, including those on trade, investment, energy, science, information, and media.

MBS will leave the country on Sunday to travel onward to India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.