Saudis vow to ‘de-escalate’ India-Pakistan tensions | Daily News

Saudis vow to ‘de-escalate’ India-Pakistan tensions

Pakistani President Arif Alvi conferring the country’s highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Islamabad on Monday.
Pakistani President Arif Alvi conferring the country’s highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Islamabad on Monday.

PAKISTAN: Saudi Arabia vowed to “de-escalate” rising tensions between Pakistan and India during a high-profile summit in Islamabad Monday as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prepares to travel from Islamabad to New Delhi.

The kingdom’s minister of state for foreign affairs spoke at a press conference in Islamabad as Pakistan recalled its envoy from Delhi for “consultations”, the latest development in a fresh diplomatic crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Delhi has vowed to retaliate after a suicide blast which killed 41 Indian paramilitaries in Kashmir on Thursday, the deadliest attack in the disputed Himalayan region in decades.

The attack has sparked widespread calls in India for action against Pakistan.

“Our objective is to try to de-escalate tensions between the two countries, neighbouring countries, and to see if there is a path forward to resolving those differences peacefully,” said Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir.

Following the pledge, the crown prince -- widely known as MBS -- held a series of meetings Monday afternoon with the Pakistani leadership before flying on to India.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947, with both the countries, which have fought three wars, claiming it in its entirety.

The Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack and the vehicle was driven by a known local militant.

India is garnering diplomatic support after the attack and has vowed to “isolate” Pakistan in the international community, saying it has “incontrovertible evidence” of Islamabad’s role.

Pakistan has rejected the allegations.

After his arrival late Sunday, the crown prince signed $20 billion in investment deals with cash-strapped Islamabad and vowed to free thousands of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi custody.

Islamabad is facing a serious balance of payments crisis and hopes the huge deals signed over the two-day visit -- seven separate agreements and memorandums of understanding -- will boost its struggling economy.

Pakistan laid on a lavish welcome for the crown prince, including a 21-gun salute, fighter jet escort and honour guard.

He also received the country’s highest civilian award Monday, the Nishan-e-Pakistan (Order of Pakistan), before heading to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The crown prince is staging a three-country Asian tour just five months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a fierce critic, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul ignited a diplomatic crisis.

After India, he is expected to finish with two days in China on Thursday and Friday.

The Saudis, after initially denying they knew anything of Khashoggi’s disappearance, finally acknowledged that a team killed him inside the consulate, but described it as a rogue operation that did not involve the crown prince.

Turkey said Friday it has not yet revealed all the information it has uncovered in the case, which launched a global wave of revulsion and tarnished the crown prince’s reputation. Analysts have said the tour is part of a Gulf pivot to rising Asia as a growing oil market, but also a timely demonstration to the West that the crown prince is not an international pariah.

Pakistan has also been accused by its western neighbour Iran of harbouring militants who carried out an attack that killed 27 Revolutionary Guards last week. The Guards’ commander has also vowed to make Pakistan pay.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a long alliance dating back to the founding of the Islamic republic. - AFP


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