Raheel Sharif calls on PM Khan ahead of Saudi crown prince’s visit

Former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Imran Khan, ahead of the Saudi crown prince’s two-day trip.

During the meeting, the premier and Sharif — who is the top commander of Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) — discussed regional security environment and efforts for peace and stability, according to an official statement.

“The prime minister reiterated his commitment to bring enduring peace and stability in Pakistan while supporting all peace initiatives for regional peace,” said the statement, adding that the premier “appreciated IMCTC charter for its efforts towards counter violent extremism”.

Sharif, who is considered to be close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday leading an IMCTC delegation, and has been busy meeting political and military bigwigs since then.

Prior to meeting the prime minister on Tuesday, he met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Sharif apprised Qureshi of the measures that are being taken by the coalition in order to combat terrorism, said a statement by the Foreign Office. The foreign minister “lauded the efforts of the coalition force to establish peace and stability in the region”.

The two also talked about the importance of regional peace and stability and other matters of mutual interest.

The former army chief then met Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani at the latter’s chamber at the Parliament House. The meeting was attended by members of Senate and IMCTC.

A day earlier, he met Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. A press release by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that “matters of mutual interest including regional peace and stability” were discussed during Gen Sharif’s meeting with Gen Bajwa.

“COAS appreciated the efforts of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition towards regional peace and security,” the ISPR added.

The recent flurry of activity comes ahead of Saudi crown prince’s arrival in Islamabad on Feb 16. This will be his first visit to Pakistan after becoming the crown prince in June 2017. He will later travel to Malaysia before going to Delhi on Feb 19.

His visit is being given extraordinary importance because of the investment commitments he is expected to make. Riyadh is planning to set up a massive refinery in Gwadar with an investment of $10 billion — the biggest by the kingdom in Pakistan to date

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