Thursday Aug 13, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will visit Saudi Arabia this weekend, DG ISPR Maj Gen Iftikhar Babar has confirmed.
Earlier, diplomatic sources had told The News that the army chief will discuss developments in Afghanistan and brief his hosts about the situation prevailing in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), especially since the illegal annexation of the disputed area more than one year ago and the resulting atrocities being committed by India.
The News had also reported that Gen Bajwa may also meet the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.
The sources had told The News that it was being hoped that the "recent misunderstanding" between the two strategic partners would subside as a result of the army chief's upcoming visit.
The reference was to remarks made by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressing frustration with the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) for not taking a strong stance on Kashmir.
"Yes, he [Gen Bajwa] is travelling," DG ISPR Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar confirmed to Reuters, saying that the visit was pre-planned and "primarily military affairs oriented."
Pakistan has been asking the OIC, which is led by Saudi Arabia, to call a Council of Foreign Ministers meeting to discuss the Kashmir issue in light of India's August 5 move.
The foreign minister was quoted by a private news channel a few days ago that Pakistan would have to move forward for the cause of Kashmir "with or without" Saudi Arabia.
Soon after the remarks, the government was criticised by opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, who termed FM Qureshi's statement "highly unfortunate, irresponsible".
"The cavalier attitude by this government is undermining Pakistan's core relations with friendly countries," Shehbaz had written in a tweet.
However, FM Qureshi had denied there was any ill will between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Qureshi said while speaking in Geo News programme "Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath" that Riyadh was still Islamabad's ally and that it acknowledges the feelings and aspirations of Pakistanis.
The foreign minister said that Saudi Arabia was a key player and that with the oil-producing country by Pakistan's side, a constructive OIC meeting could be held.
On Monday, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, Admiral Nawaf Saeed Al-Malkiy, had met the COAS to discuss matters of mutual interest, regional security and bilateral defence relations.