Pakistan awards Saudi's crown prince 'global influencer' award, months after $20 billion lifeline

Pakistan awards Saudi's crown prince 'global influencer' award, months after $20 billion lifeline
Despite international scrutiny following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Pakistan's Ulema Council has awarded Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman with the 2018 'Global Influential Figure' title.
3 min read
16 April, 2019
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was awarded the 'Global Influential Figure' title by Pakistan [AFP/Getty]

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has been awarded the title of 2018's "Global Influential Figure" by Pakistan, Pakistani media reported.

The award certificate was handed to Nawaf bin Said al-Malki, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Pakistan, in a Sunday ceremony in Islamabad.

Prince Mohammad was chosen for the award by the All Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) for his efforts in supporting Islam. The PUC said the Crown Prince championed key humanitarian issues such as Yemen, Syria and the protection of Muslim minorities.

This comes amid increasing international scrutiny of the Crown Prince for Saudi Arabia's rights record and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The CIA believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to kill US-based Khashoggi, a fierce critic of the prince, and say his body was dismembered and removed to a location still publicly unknown.

The imam of Makkah's Grand Mosque, Dr Sheikh Abdullah Awad al-Juhani, attended Sunday’s ceremony, calling on Muslims around the world to unite.

"Pakistan is an important country in the Muslim world, and we hold her in high esteem," he said, "Saudi Arabia is a peace-loving country and has always played a positive role in mitigating the sufferings of Muslims across the globe".

Looking east

Mohammad bin Salman visited Pakistan in February as part of his attempts to strengthen his alliance with eastern allies, after recent PR disasters alienated him from the West.

Pakistan is in dire economic crisis and looked to Saudi Arabia as a financial lifeline. The two countries signed investment agreements worth $20 billion during the visit.

Bin Salman continued his February tour with visits to India and China. Commentators have criticised the royal's silence concerning the plight of China's Uighur Muslim population who are criminalised for basic acts of worship such as growing a full beard, speaking in Arabic and praying.

Up to one million Uighurs are being held in internment camps in Xinjiang as part of a anti-terror and anti-separatist campaign, according to estimates cited by a UN panel.

"China has the right to take anti-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security," the crown prince is reported to have said. Prince Mohammed left China with a joint oil venture worth more than $10 billion.

He has also faced criticism for Saudi Arabia's role in Yemen, which has killed thousands of children according to recent reports.

Germany has effectively banned arms exports to Saudi Arabia over the war, while the US Congress in putting pressure on President Donald Trump's administration over its support for Saudi Arabia and the high civilian death toll in Yemen.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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