COAS Gen Bajwa arrives in Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday arrived Saudi Arabia mainly with an objective to ensure the “recent misunderstanding” between the two strategic partners would subside with his visit.

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Earlier, diplomatic sources had told media 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.

Gen Bajwa may also meet the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz during his visit.

Sources had told 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 had 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 some 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.

Last week, 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.

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