Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s official trip to the kingdom.
General Bajwa was received by Pakistan’s appointed Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Lt Gen (retd) Bilal Akbar and Saudi military officials. During his stay in Saudi, General Bajwa is expected to meet top Saudi civil and military leadership in what seems to be part of the preparation of PM Imran Khan’s scheduled trip to Riyadh.
The visit of General Bajwa and the upcoming trip of PM Khan is seen as significant as these developments suggest normalcy in ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Both the countries have enjoyed the longstanding strategic relationship, which in recent years met with certain challenges. The first blow came in 2015 when Pakistan refused to send troops to join the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. The relationship was back to normal after Islamabad joined the Saudi-led Islamic military alliance against terrorism.
However, the ties between the two nations suffered a jolt again in 2019 when Pakistan pledged support for a Malaysian initiative to build a rival bloc of Muslim nations and also organised a summit. Though Pakistan withdrew from the summit after Saudi warned of serious consequences, the relationship between the two countries became so tense that Islamabad had to return USD 3 billion loan to Riyadh.