By: Radhakrishna NS
PAKISTAN Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday left on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral and regional matters, including the Kashmir issue, with the Kingdom’s leadership.
Prime Minister Khan will “discuss with the Saudi leadership the various dimensions of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, arising from India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5 2019”, the Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia is a close ally of Pakistan, providing generous financial aid to the cash-strapped country.
Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.
Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.
The FO said Prime Minister Khan has been in regular contact with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman on the Kashmir issue.
Since the visit to Pakistan by Crown Prince Salman in February 2019, there is a growing momentum in Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations in all areas of cooperation, the FO said.
“During the Prime Minister’s visit, the two sides will discuss ways of further strengthening the economic partnership between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” it said
The Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia will further reinforce the close fraternal ties between the two countries and deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields, the FO said.
Saudi Arabia has provided financial assistance to Pakistan of $6 billion as bailout package – $3bn balance-of-payments support and another $3bn in deferred payments on oil imports – which Riyadh had agreed in October last year.