ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa travelled to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
In a brief statement, the ISPR said: “COAS has reached KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) on an official visit.”
During his visit the army chief would meet the Saudi civilian and military leadership.
The visit is taking place ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s trip to the kingdom, which is expected to start on Friday (May 7).
Many believe that in his meetings in Riyadh, Gen Bajwa would lay the groundwork for the prime minister’s visit that is expected to revive Saudi assistance to Pakistan.
Gen Bajwa last visited Saudi Arabia in August after a hiccup in bilateral relations, which was caused by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s statement on Saudi-dominated Organisation of Islamic Cooperation for its failure to convene a special meeting of the foreign ministers of the member countries for a discussion on the Kashmir dispute.
Saudi Arabia has, however, not fulfilled Pakistan’s demand for the convening of OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting on the issue.
Saudi Arabia following the controversy recalled most of the assistance it had extended to Pakistan in 2018 and Beijing had to step in with a replacement loan. Similarly, the oil credit facility was not renewed.
However, diplomatic sources expect that much of that Saudi attitude is going to change soon. Military diplomacy has reportedly played a major role in ironing out the differences that were souring the ties.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have longstanding military ties, which are governed by a bilateral security cooperation agreement of 1982, under which Pakistan assists the kingdom in training and defence production capabilities.
Pakistani troops have, moreover, been stationed in Saudi Arabia in training and advisory role.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021