'We want Saudi Arabia safe, secure' says Imran

Cash-strapped and in need of friends, Pakistan is welcoming the crown prince with open arms for a visit during which he is expected to sign investment agreements worth more than $10 billion.

The government on Saturday announced a public holiday in Islamabad on Monday, February 18 during the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to the country.

For his part, Pakistan's Khan said that the seven MoUs signed would signify the start of "enhanced relationships" between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The Saudi crown prince is now on a two-day official visit to Pakistan, the first leg of his Asian tour starting on Sunday.

Prince Mohammed is set to become the first guest to stay at the Prime Minister's House.

The visit by Prince Salman, who is also the Vice President of Saudi Arabia's council of ministers, follows the highly successful trip of Modi to that country in April 2016, during which the two sides had agreed to further elevate their existing strategic partnership.

"Asia is a source of inward investment into Gulf energy and infrastructure investment, and the future growth of the global economy will be in Asia", said Karen Young, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, federal cabinet ministers and senior civil and military officials saw off Saudi Prince at Noor Khan airbase.

The Saudi crown prince is likely to reach Islamabad at 7pm on Sunday.

Man U and the Saudi Royal family have been tied to one another for a while, with Saudi Telecom being the longest running commercial partner with the club.

"It's big for phase 1, and definitely it will grow every month and every year, and it will be beneficial to both countries", said the crown prince.

Details on numerous investments remain vague but the package was the largest since the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, hailed as the centrepiece of Beijing's mammoth Belt and Road global infrastructure project when it was announced in 2014. So we welcome Saudi Arabia to participate with us. The award was presented by Pakistan President Arif Alvi at a special ceremony held at the President House in Islamabad.

Former Pakistani diplomat, Asif Durrani, insisted the militant attacks in Iran and Indian Kashmir could be an attempt to overshadow the royal visit and put Pakistan under pressure.

The unprecedented Saudi investment is being viewed by Prime Minister Khan's nascent government as a major boost for Pakistan, which is facing an economic crisis and balance of payments pressure.

  • Jon Douglas