COAS to visit S. Arabia on 16th

Updated 13 Aug 2020

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Pakistan army spokesman says visit was pre-planned and “primarily military affairs oriented”. — AP/File
Pakistan army spokesman says visit was pre-planned and “primarily military affairs oriented”. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The army chief will visit Saudi Arabia this weekend, officials said, seeking to calm diplomatic strains over Kashmir as financial support for Islamabad hangs in the balance.

The two countries are traditionally close and Saudi Arabia in 2018 gave Pakistan a $3 billion loan and $3.2bn oil credit facility to help its balance of payments crisis.

But Riyadh is irked by criticism from Pakistan that Saudi Arabia has been lukewarm on the Kashmir territorial dispute, two senior military officials told Reuters, motivating Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s planned visit on Sunday.

“Yes he is travelling,” Pakistan army spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar told Reuters, though the official line was that the visit was pre-planned and “primarily military affairs oriented”.

Saudia Arabia made Pakistan pay back $1bn two weeks ago, forcing it to borrow from close ally China, and Riyadh is yet to respond to Pakistan’s request to extend the oil credit facility.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020