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Pak army chief fails to meet Saudi crown prince

Source: ANI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
August 19, 2020 08:54 IST
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It seems Saudi Arabia is in no mood to mend ties with Pakistan whose Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa who flew in to Riyadh to placate an angry Saudi leadership failed to secure a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to reports in Pakistan media.

 

IMAGE: Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa is welcomed by Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, in Riyadh. Photograph: Handout via Reuters

Bajwa along with the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), General Faiz Hameed, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday amid strained ties between the two countries.

Though Bajwa met Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman and Saudi Arabia's military chief of staff General Fayyad bin Hamid Al-Ruwaili, he failed to meet the crown prince.

The decade-long friendship between both countries took a sharp turn when Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's issued a blunt warning to Saudi Arabia after the latter refused to act against India over Kashmir issue.

On the first anniversary of revocation of Article 370 by India, Qureshi took Saudi Arabia to task in a TV interview for not obliging Pakistan over the issue of 'organising' a meeting of the Council of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir in early February 2020.

Qureshi's remarks revived Riyadh's anger, who has forced Pakistan to pay back $1 billion prematurely and is demanding another $1bn of the loan.

Pakistan was reportedly paying 3.2 per cent interest on the loan and it has now arranged $1 billion loan from State Administration Foreign Exchange (SAFE) of China at London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) plus 1 per cent, which at current rates comes to around 1.18 per cent.

Pakistan may have to arrange similar easy loans to pay up the rest $2 billion to Saudi Arabia.

Risking ties with Saudi will prove to be expensive for Pakistan. And Pakistan Military's desperation to improve relationships proves the same point.

Riyadh has helped Islamabad many times including helping in paying for Pakistan's first batch of F-16 fighter aircraft in the 1980s and providing $6 billion loans that helped Pakistan tide over its balance of payments crisis just two years ago.

Saudi Arabia had come to Pakistan's rescue in 2018 when it had agreed to provide $3.2 billion worth of oil on deferred payments per annum as part of its $ 6.2 billion packages to help Pakistan tide over its balance of payment crisis.

The balance $3 billion was delivered as a cash-loan. Saudis had activated the deferred payment facility for three years from 1 July 2019, and the agreement signed in May had come up for renewal this year.

However, the Saudis, visibly upset at Pakistan's behaviour, have possibly discontinued the arrangement.

Among other things, Pakistan's tilt towards Turkey, Malaysia, and Iran, as also its growing economic and strategic dependence on China might have annoyed the Saudis.

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Source: ANI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
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