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ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa may request Saudi Arabia for renewal of the agreement for provision of oil worth $ 3.2 billion on deferred payment during his reported visit to Riyadh next week.

The Army Chief is reportedly visiting Saudi Arabia next week for an in-depth discussion on issues of mutual interest, regional situation and the country's economic challenges with Saudi leadership, including with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Recently, Pakistan paid back $ 1 billion out of the $3 billion borrowed from Saudi Arabia in November 2018 even though the kingdom had assured the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year that the loan would be rolled over for the duration of the Fund programme (with scheduled completion in September 2022 though it is likely to be delayed by at least half a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The deferred oil facility was in addition to the loan which expired in May this year and Pakistan is seeking renewal of the facility. The reports maintain that COAS General Bajwa will hold talks with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and request the renewal of the Saudi facility.

The ISPR, however, did not respond to telephone calls and text messages of Business Recorder till filing of this report. Last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in an unusually sharp warning, asked the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for an early convening of a meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers (CFMs) on Kashmir. Pakistan's request for the CFMs' special meeting on Kashmir is pending since India's illegal and unilateral step of August 5, 2019. On 10 August Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malkiy met Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. During the meeting, according to a brief statement issued by ISPR, matters of mutual interest, regional security situation and bilateral defence relations between the two brotherly countries were discussed. There was no mention of the COAS's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020