Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, will visit Saudi Arabia on Sunday in an effort to calm escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries over the unrest in Kashmir.
Reuters quoted Pakistani army spokesman, General Babar Iftikhar, as saying that General Bajwa will visit Riyadh, but claimed the visit was pre-planned and “primarily military affairs oriented”.
However, the agency quoted unnamed senior military officials as saying that Riyadh was “upset by Pakistan’s criticism of the kingdom’s lukewarm stance on the Kashmir territorial dispute” with India.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia ended a loan and oil supply agreement to Pakistan due to the South Asian nation’s criticism that the Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is not doing enough to pressure India on the Kashmir issue, marking a new milestone in the deteriorating relations between the two allies.
Pakistan was last week forced to repay a Saudi loan of $1 billion that the kingdom called in after Pakistan insisted it be allowed to lead the OIC’s support for Kashmir, a region largely under Indian occupation and which was annexed by India last year.
Relations between the two countries then started to break down when Riyadh turned down Islamabad’s request to convene a special meeting of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers.