Updated: February 21, 2019 12:13:16 pm
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was gifted a gold-plated submachine gun by Pakistani senators during his visit to Islamabad on Sunday, The Guardian reported. The prince was welcomed with a fighter jet escort and Pakistan’s highest civilian honour on the lavish first leg of his Asian tour.
Special arrangements were made in Islamabad to accord a warm welcome to the prince and his entourage on their arrival. Big portraits of MBS, King Salman, Prime Minister Khan and President Alvi were erected on Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. Banners and posters inscribed with slogans of Pak-Saudi friendship and fraternity were also put on display along the roads. A big portrait of the crown prince, 120 feet tall and 45 feet wide, was also installed in the Parliament building.
On Monday, Prince Mohammed signed agreements to invest $20bn in the country, a crucial injection of funds for an ailing economy suffering a foreign-currency crunch and which is currently negotiating its 13th IMF bailout in 40 years. The Saudis also announced the release of more than 2,000 Pakistani prisoners from their jails.
Saudi Arabia also signed off on a joint statement with Pakistan Monday where they said there was a need to avoid “politicisation of the UN listing regime” — an apparent reference to India’s efforts to list Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”.
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After his Pakistan visit, the Crown Prince arrived in India Tuesday night where he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday agreed to tackle the menace of terrorism and increase pressure on countries supporting it. Without mentioning Pakistan, the two leaders concurred that eliminating the infrastructure of terrorism was important to punish terrorists and their supporters.
In India, Mohammed Bin Salman, or MBS as he is popularly called, said terrorism and extremism are a common threat to both countries, adding that Riyadh will cooperate with New Delhi on every aspect, including intelligence sharing.
His visits to Pakistan, India and China this week were aimed at rehabilitating the image of the Saudi Arabian crown prince five months after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
In Pakistan, the Saudi Crown Prince “praised openness and efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan for dialogue with India and the opening of the Kartarpur crossing point for Sikh pilgrims, the joint statement said. It also pointed out to the “efforts exerted by both sides, stressing that dialogue is the only way to ensure peace and stability in the region to resolve outstanding issues”.
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