Saudi crown prince due in Pakistan for controversial state visit

Saudi crown prince due in Pakistan for controversial state visit
Saudi Arabia's crown prince is due in Pakistan's capital for a hugely extravagant visit.
2 min read
17 February, 2019
The visit to Pakistan has been prepared for weeks [Getty]

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is due to land in Pakistan on Sunday, on an extravagant state visit that will see Riyadh and Islamabad further strengthen relations.

The visit to Pakistan will see Saudi Arabia sign investment deals worth up to $20 billion, according to Pakistan's Board of Investment, while others have put the figure at $10 billion.

Riyadh is expected to agree to help prop up the struggling Pakistani economy with a $6 billion loan, which will strengthen its hand when negotiating a bail-out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Business leaders, leading government figures and royals will take part in the talks that will see memorandums of understanding signed.

Much of the planned Saudi investments centred on the port city of Gwadar, which will include a $10 billion oil refinery.

It is being treated as the biggest state visit in Pakistan since Chinese President Xi Jinping's in 2015.

Pakistan is rolling out the red carpet for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a visit that has been criticised for its huge cost for the cash-strapped government.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be welcomed with the re-release of 3,500 pigeons - captured from across the country.

Pakistan's government is mobilising some 300 Land Cruisers for the visit, while 750 rooms at eight luxury hotels will also be reserved for the crown prince's entourage, according to Dawn newspaper.

The crown prince will also fly in his own gym and other luxuries on two C130 military cargo planes, according to Pakistani and Gulf media.

The visit also comes amid tensions between Pakistan and its neighbours. New Dehli has said it will "completely isolate" Islamabad after a deadly suicide attack on troops in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Tehran has also blamed Pakistan for another militant attack on Iranian troops and warned of consequences. Iran's Revolutionary Guards also blamed Saudi Arabia and the UAE for the attack, by the Sunni militant group.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit was delayed by one day for "unexplained reasons".