Pakistan will stand by Saudi Arabia in time of need – PM Khan

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is talking to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on September 19, 2019. Khan arrived in the Kingdom on a two-day official visit ahead of his trip to New York where he is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly later this month. (Photo Courtesy: PM Office)
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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is talking to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on September 19, 2019. Khan arrived in the Kingdom on a two-day official visit ahead of his trip to New York where he is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly later this month. (Photo Courtesy: Consulate General of Pakistan Jeddah)
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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a meeting on September 19, 2019. The two leaders were also accompanied by senior officials from their countries. Khan arrived in the Kingdom on a two-day official visit ahead of his trip to New York where he is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly later this month. ( Photo Courtesy: PM Office)
Updated 20 September 2019

Pakistan will stand by Saudi Arabia in time of need – PM Khan

  • Condemns Aramco attacks in meetings with the Saudi king, crown prince
  • Discusses the situation in Kashmir with the Saudi royals

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday assured King Salman bin Abdulaziz that his country would stand by Saudi Arabia if the sanctity and security of the holiest Muslim places in the Kingdom were in danger, said the PM Office.
The two leaders discussed the bilateral relations between their countries and focused on global and regional developments.
Khan also briefed the Saudi king about the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir after New Delhi revoked the limited constitutional autonomy of the disputed Himalayan region on August 5. In response, the king expressed solidarity with Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister condemned the recent missile and drone strikes on Saudi oil facilities in Eastern Province during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
He also addressed a distinguished group of Pakistani expatriates in Jeddah and told them that the bilateral relations between the two countries had reached a new level.
“Saudi Arabia has always rescued Pakistan in times of crisis,” he said.
Explaining the significance of his visit to the Kingdom, Khan said he wanted to apprise the Saudi leadership about the situation in Kashmir before going to the United Nations General Assembly.
“[Pakistan’s founding father] Quaid-e-Azam [Muhammad Ali Jinnah] had realized that Muslims would not get their rights in India. This fact has now been established by recent steps taken by [India’s Prime Minister Narendra] Modi,” he told his audience.
“We want to highlight the Kashmir dispute all over the world,” Khan continued. “Our Kashmiri brothers are passing through a difficult situation, though the dispute has also been internationalized and the world has come to believe in Pakistan’s narrative.”
Khan added that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation had favored Pakistan’s position on Kashmir and it was time to forcefully present the issue at the UN General Assembly.
The prime minister arrived in Saudi Arabia on a two-day official visit on Thursday. After concluding his visit to the Kingdom, he will continue his journey to New York where he will attend the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the PM Office added.
Governor Makkah Prince Khalid bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz received Khan at the Royal Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport. Pakistan’s envoy to Saudi Arabia, Raja Ali Ejaz, was also in attendance.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Adviser on Finance Hafeez Sheikh, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, and PM’s special aide for overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari accompanied the premier.
Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia is expected to further reinforce the close fraternal ties between the two countries and deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.


India delays signing Kartarpur corridor deal with Pakistan

Updated 22 October 2019

India delays signing Kartarpur corridor deal with Pakistan

  • Border crossing will give pilgrims visa-free access to holy Sikh shrine
  • Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh expected to attend the inaugural ceremony

NEW DELHI, LAHORE: India has postponed signing a deal that will allow Sikhs to visit a holy shrine in neighboring Pakistan without a visa, a Foreign Ministry official in New Delhi was reported as saying.
The Kartarpur Corridor connects the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib, in India’s Punjab region, to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan.
The visa-free border crossing will be inaugurated next month, days ahead of one of Sikhism’s most sacred festivals and the 550th birthday of the religion’s founder.
Media reports said that the signing of the deal had been pushed back by a day to Oct. 24 and that C L Das, an official handling internal security at India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, would meet Pakistan officials along the border to sign the agreement.
The corridor is a rare example of cooperation and diplomacy between the two South Asian rivals, who came to the brink of war in February following a suicide attack in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Ties nose-dived further in August when India flooded its portion of the disputed valley with troops, imposed a communications lockdown and revoked the special legal status of the territory.
But finalizing the corridor project has proved tricky.
Earlier this week, India’s External Affairs Ministry said it was disappointed by Pakistan’s decision to levy a $20 service fee per pilgrim.
“It is a matter of disappointment that while understanding has been reached on most of the elements for facilitating the visit of pilgrims from India, Pakistan continue to insist on levying a service fee," said the ministry. "Government has consistently urged Pakistan that in deference to the wishes of the pilgrims, it should not levy such a fee. While agreeing to sign the agreement, the government of Pakistan has been once again urged to reconsider its insistence to levy service fee on pilgrims. India would be ready to amend the agreement accordingly at any time.”
The connecting bridge at the border was also a significant issue. India favored an elevated bridge but Pakistan was only willing to build an embankment, fearing a possible breach in security.
New Delhi said all the infrastructure was in place in time for the project’s inauguration, which is expected to be attended by former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Islamabad has also invited Singh to be part of the inaugural ceremony but he has yet to accept. Despite the bumps in the road Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was upbeat about the unveiling.
“Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe, as the construction work on the Kartarpur project enters final stages and will be open to the public on 9th November 2019,” he posted on Facebook. “World’s largest gurdwara will be visited by Sikhs from across India and other parts of the world.”
Although the opening of the corridor is unlikely to lead to any kind of bilateral engagement or rapprochement between the two nations, Sikhs will be relieved that it is easier to access the shrine in Kartarpur.
The community has long sought easier access to Kartarpur, a village just four kilometers over the border in Pakistan, as it used to demand a lengthy visa and travel process.
Pilgrims will get special permits to access the shrine. Up to 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to access the corridor daily.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Indian side of the corridor, but it is unclear if he will cross into Pakistan afterwards.