ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has publicly distanced itself from comments made by party leader Sher Afzal Marwat, who accused both the United States and Saudi Arabia of conspiring to topple the PTI government, stirring tensions amid a critical visit from a high-level Saudi delegation to Pakistan.

Party leaders emphasised their respect for Saudi Arabia, dismissing any suggestion of its involvement in the “regime change conspiracy”, a phrase used by the PTI to refer to Imran Khan’s ouster in April 2022.

Mr Marwat, a member of PTI’s political committee, levelled the allegations in an interview on a private news channel. He also claimed that Saudi Arabia was influenced by the US in regional matters.

His statements have sparked significant unrest, coinciding with the visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud to Pakistan.

Party says remarks ‘not based on facts’; govt spox calls it ‘heinous attempt’ to derail S. Arabia ties

Mr Marwat later said the remarks were his personal opinion and had nothing to do with the party policy.

The PTI on Wednesday also distanced itself from the statement, claiming that it was not the party’s official position. A party spokesperson said Mr Marwat’s statement did not reflect the party’s stance and was “not based on facts”.

The spokesperson added that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia shared a close and brotherly relationship, highlighted by the warm ties between former prime minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Asad Qaiser in a post on X (formerly Twitter) said: “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, united by shared values, culture, and a common vision for regional peace and prosperity. We extend a warm welcome to the high-powered delegation from Saudi Arabia, led by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.”

Another party leader, Zulfikar Bukhari, also took to the social media platform, affirming: “Neither Imran Khan nor PTI holds any such opinion about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. KSA has ALWAYS been and will be our closest brotherly country. They have never failed to help us in any circumstance or situation. Even the most recent visit is a testament to that.”

Mr Marwat also posted a message on X, insisting that his statement about Saudi Arabia was based on his personal views. “I never claimed in my interview that this stance had any official backing of the PTI,” he said.

Govt reaction

Meanwhile, a government spokesperson on Wednesday said the allegations of PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat against Saudi Arabia were a “heinous attempt” to impact the relations between the two brotherly countries.

APP quoted Legal Affairs Spokes­person Barrister Aqeel Malik as saying that the PTI leader gave the statement at a time when a high-level Saudi delegation was visiting the country.

He said the statement was a nefarious conspiracy to interfere with the process of Saudi investment in the country and destabilise the national economy.

The PTI had always tried to spoil relations with friendly countries, he added.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Debt trap
Updated 30 May, 2024

Debt trap

The task before the government is to boost its tax-to-GDP ratio to the global average by taxing the economy’s untaxed and undertaxed sectors.
Foregone times
30 May, 2024

Foregone times

THE past, as they say, is a foreign country. It seems that the PML-N’s leadership has chosen to live there. Nawaz...
Margalla fires
30 May, 2024

Margalla fires

THE Margalla Hills — the sprawling 12,605-hectare national park — were once again engulfed in flames, with 15...
First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...