ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa returned Islamabad at the end of one day tour to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after meeting Saudi Deputy Minister of Defence, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz on Monday evening. DG-ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed was also present at the meeting.
Pakistan Army has already stated that Gen Bajwa’s visit was primarily military-affairs oriented. The Saudi deputy defense minister wrote in a tweet about his meeting with Bajwa; “We discussed bilateral relations, military cooperation, and our common vision for preserving regional security.”
The Saudi spokesman said military and defence ties and ways to strengthen joint cooperation for better security and stability in the region were discussed. Earlier, Gen Bajwa and Lt. Gen Faiz Hameed met Saudi army chief Gen. Fayyad bin Hamid Al-Ruwaili and Lieutenant General (Staff) Fahad bin Turki Al Saud Commander Joint Forces in Riyadh and military to military ties including training exchanges were focus of the meetings.
The army chief visited Saudi Arabia at a time when statements by Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi over the Organization of Islamic Countries being lukewarm on the Kashmir territorial dispute created controversy.
Gen Bajwa’s visit took place at an important juncture. The United Arab Emirates had last week reached an agreement with Israel and the United States to normalise ties with the Jewish state. Reportedly more Arab countries would be joining the Emiratis in normalising ties with Israel. Pakistan too, many believe, would face pressures to take position on Israel ties.
Moreover, the army chief’s visit is being viewed in the context of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s criticism of the Saudi Arabia-dominated Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for not convening the meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers on Kashmir. However, a Pakistani military spokesman had earlier said the visit had been planned long before the controversy erupted.
Gen Bajwa’s meetings with Prince Salman bin Mohammad and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman were expected in view of close relations between the two countries but this time, there were not materialised. There were no comments on this situation from either side.