New Pakistan PM to visit Saudi Arabia tomorrow

PTI Islamabad | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 14, 2012

Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Mr Raja Pervez Ashraf, will embark on his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia tomorrow, days before the Supreme Court takes up two cases that could lead to his disqualification.

During the two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan, Mr Ashraf will meet King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

An unnamed Foreign Ministry official was quoted by the Dawn newspaper as saying that the purpose of the visit was to reiterate the importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Saudi Arabia.

During a meeting with Saudi Ambassador, Mr Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Al-Ghadeer, on July 2, Mr Ashraf had expressed a desire to visit the kingdom.

“I am keen to visit the kingdom, the Holy Land,” Mr Ashraf was quoted as telling the Saudi diplomat in a statement.

Mr Ashraf became the premier last month after the Supreme Court convicted his predecessor, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani, of contempt and disqualified him for refusing to revive graft cases against the President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari.

Mr Gilani’s last official trip was to Saudi Arabia. He visited the kingdom to attend the funeral of Saudi crown prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz.

A diplomatic observer told the Dawn that it was plausible for any premier to undertake a foreign trip to strengthen bilateral relations under normal circumstances, but a premier “facing a survival crisis at home would go on an overseas trip only for something very pressing’’.

The report said Mr Ashraf “could be looking for Riyadh’s blessings for a political bailout or urgent economic help to ease the financial crisis at home’’.

Saudi Arabia has been helping Pakistan with financial aid and has also been an important external actor in the country’s domestic milieu.

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Published on July 14, 2012
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