Pakistan PM flies to US on Saudi crown prince’s special plane

Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Dr. Asad M. Khan and Maleeha Lodhi, the country's representative to the United Nations, receives Prime Minister Imran Khan in New York who will attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (PID)
Updated 22 September 2019

Pakistan PM flies to US on Saudi crown prince’s special plane

  • Adviser commends Mohammed bin Salman’s ‘magnanimous’ gesture
  • Khan’s visit to the Kingdom prior to trip to Washington significant, experts say

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s media adviser on Sunday praised the “magnanimous” gesture of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who stopped the Pakistani premier from using a commercial airliner to fly to the United States and arranged a special plane for him to go to New York.
“This happens in bilateral relations,” Iftikhar Durrani told Arab News. “Prime Minister Imran Khan went to Saudi Arabia on a commercial flight. It was the magnanimity of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he offered a special plane to him for his travel from Saudi Arabia to the United States.”
Khan began his week-long visit to the US on Saturday to attend the 74th United Nations General Assembly session and participate in a host of other activities, including a meeting with President Donald Trump.
Durrani said the PM would take a commercial plane while flying back home since “he is always concerned about public money.”
“Pakistan is deeply respected in the Muslim world,” he continued. “Imran Khan’s stature is also acknowledged as a statesman in the whole world due to his social work and philanthropy.”
He said there was a lot in common between the prime minister and the Saudi crown prince. “When the Saudi leader visited Islamabad, he said that the Kingdom wanted to work with Pakistan for a while but was waiting for such leadership. So the two leaders have a chemistry. They like each other.”
Dr. Mussarrat Amin, an international relations expert, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had close ties and the Kingdom had always assisted the South Asian country in times of need.
“Recently, Saudi Arabia helped Pakistan overcome economic crisis,” she noted. “Khan’s earlier visit to the US was also arranged by the crown prince which produced positive results for Pakistan.”
She added that Saudi Arabia was in a position to help Pakistan in its diplomatic engagements with the Trump administration. Amin claimed this was also the reason why Khan visited the Kingdom before flying to New York.
“The Saudis can influence the United States to play a mediatory role between Pakistan and India,” Amin said. “People in this country expect great things from the Kingdom when it comes to the Kashmir issue.”
Both Pakistani and Indian prime ministers are scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 27.
While Khan on Sunday is scheduled to meet US politicians, diplomats and businessmen – such as Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, and David Fenton and George Soros – his first informal engagement on Monday will be with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on breakfast.
The Pakistani prime minister will also meet Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and President Trump on the same day.
Pakistan’s former ambassador, Ali Sarwar Naqvi, told Arab News this was a very important visit for the country since the prime minister would interact with highest level of global leadership in the US.
“This visit provides an opportunity to sensitize the international community over the Kashmir issue,” Naqvi, who also represented his country at the UN, pointed out. “The prime minister’s meeting with President Trump will be very useful, especially for Kashmir issue, as it will give him the opportunity to make the US president realize the grave situation in Kashmir due to the communications blackout and curfew that have been in place for the last 48 days.”
Naqvi also appreciated Saudi crown prince’s gesture, saying it showed the warmth between the two countries. He added that Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia ahead of his US trip was significant.
“PM Khan reached out to the Saudi crown prince to stop escalation of situation in this region due to India’s actions in Kashmir,” he said.


Pakistanis in Lebanon: Evacuation in place if protests escalate says Foreign Office

Updated 20 October 2019

Pakistanis in Lebanon: Evacuation in place if protests escalate says Foreign Office

  • No immediate plan to evacuate Pakistani expats from Lebanon
  • Over 700 working class Pakistani expats reside in Lebanon

Islamabad: Standard operating procedures are in place to evacuate Pakistanis from Lebanon in case the unrest in Lebanon escalates, a spokesperson at Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Arab News on Saturday as anti-government demonstrators in Lebanon directed fiery, violent protests at a political elite they blame for a failing economy.

Angry protesters took to the streets across Lebanon on Thursday, agitated by rising inflation and cumbersome tax reforms. Major roads in Beirut including those leading to and from the airport remain blocked by mobs which routinely set tires ablaze on key routes and highways.

“SOP’s are in place for the evacuation of Pakistanis if matters escalate,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to media. He added the foreign office was monitoring the situation.

“There are between 700-800 Pakistani expats in Lebanon, however they are not being evacuated,” he said. 

“It’s a developing situation, and the ministry will apprise accordingly.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri gave his government partners a 72-hour deadline to agree on reforms that could ward off an economic crisis and hinted that he may otherwise resign.