Islamabad: Pakistan is all set to accord a grand welcome to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman who will make his first state visit to Pakistan on February 16 at the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Saudi Crown Prince will be the first state guest to stay at the official residence of Pakistan’s premier, according to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry.
Imran Khan will personally receive the prince upon his arrival at the Nur Khan airbase. He will then be presented the guard of honour and special fly-past by JF-17 Thunder jets of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) while the aerobatics team Sherdil is expected to enthral the visiting dignitaries. Later, a grand reception will be hosted in his honour, which will be attended by the prime minister, all chiefs of armed forces, top ministers and officials.
As part of security measures planned for the crown prince’s visit, Islamabad airspace will be shut down and cell phone services partially suspended. To ensure security, main routes in Islamabad and Rawalpindi will be closed to heavy traffic while over a thousand police security border posts have been set up in the twin cities, according to police officials. More than 700 rooms in five hotels have been booked till February 18 for the royal entourage.
The Saudi delegation will comprise more than 1,000 officials and businessmen, while 130 royal guards will accompany the prince, according to reports. A high-powered delegation including other members of the royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen will accompany the prince.
During his two-day visit, the Saudi leader will also call on Pakistan president as well as Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. Saudi ministers accompanying the prince would hold meetings with their counterparts “to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields”, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that businessmen from the two countries would also discuss opportunities for collaboration in the private sector. A delegation of Pakistan’s Senate will also call on the crown prince to discuss ways to enhance parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.
“The visit of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is expected to significantly enhance bilateral ties between the two countries in all spheres of cooperation” the FO statement said.
During the visit, at least eight memorandums of understanding (MoUs) are expected to be signed between two sides, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi told media. The agreements would be inked on diverse sectors, including investment, finance, power, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports. “Islamabad and Riyadh have decided to transform their strategic relationship into economic partnership”, the minister added. The crown prince is expected to sign agreements worth up to $20 billion, including setting up of two power plants, an oil refinery and petrochemical complex.
Ahead of the crown prince’s visit, his security team and Saudi media representatives have already reached Pakistan. Earlier, a 235-member delegation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), led by Pakistan’s former army chief General Raheel Sharif, also arrived in the country.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have long maintained strong ties that withstood the test of time and have extended unconditional support to each other. Last year, the Kingdom offered Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year and a loan worth up to $3 billion in deferred payments for oil imports for three years to help overcome Pakistan’s economic challenges.