Pak army chief to visit Saudi in quest to smooth ties | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 14, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 14, 2020

DIPLOMATIC STRAINS OVER KASHMIR

Pak army chief to visit Saudi in quest to smooth ties

Pakistan's army chief will visit Saudi Arabia this weekend, officials said, seeking to calm diplomatic strains over Kashmir as financial support for Islamabad hangs in the balance.

The two countries are traditionally close and Saudi Arabia in 2018 gave Pakistan a $3 billion loan and $3.2 billion oil credit facility to help its balance of payments crisis.

But Riyadh is irked by criticism from Pakistan that Saudi Arabia has been lukewarm on the Kashmir territorial dispute, two senior military officials told Reuters, motivating General Qamar Javed Bajwa's planned fence-building visit on Sunday.

Pakistan has long pressed the Saudi-led Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to convene a high-level meeting to highlight alleged Indian violations in the part it controls. But the OIC has only held low-level meetings so far.

"If you cannot convene it, then I'll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told local media last week.

Qureshi's remarks have revived Riyadh's anger, one of the Pakistani military officials and a government advisor said.

Saudia Arabia had already made Pakistan pay back $1 billion two weeks ago, forcing it to borrow from another close ally China, and Riyadh is yet to respond to Pakistan's request to extend the oil credit facility. Saudi Arabia is also asking for another $1 billion back, Pakistani officials said.  Pakistanis account for more than a quarter of the 10 million expatriates working in Saudi Arabia.

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