Islamabad [Pakistan], August 25 (ANI): Pakistani journalists have hit out at Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's remarks regarding Saudi Arabia, saying it contradicted the comments he made earlier.
Earlier on Monday, Qureshi refuted reports that ties have strained between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the past few weeks. "The kingdom has neither asked Islamabad to return its loan nor has it suspended oil supply to Pakistan," Qureshi was quoted as saying by The News International.
The scribes -- Rauf Klasra and Amir Mateen -- said that Qureshi's comments on Saudi are a big U-turn and his tone and tenor has changed after returning from China recently.
Mateen said that Pakistan cannot continue to afford fissures with Saudi Arabia.
On August 5, during the first anniversary of India's revocation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, Qureshi had slammed Saudi Arabia in a TV interview for not obliging Pakistan to 'organise' a meeting of the Council of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir in early February.
The Foreign Minister had said that unless the OIC convened the meeting, Pakistan would be "compelled to convene a meeting of Islamic countries that are ready to stand with it on the issue of Kashmir". As a retaliation, Riyadh issued a statement that loans or oil supply will no longer be given to Islamabad.
Pakistan was also made to pay back USD 1 billion to Saudi Arabia, which was part of a USD 6.2 billion package announced by the kingdom in November 2018, which included a total of USD 3 billion in loans and an oil credit facility amounting to USD 3.2 billion, according to reports.
Saudi Arabia has helped Pakistan many times including helping in paying for the Asian country's first batch of F-16 fighter aircraft in the 1980s and providing USD 6 billion loans that helped Islamabad tide over its balance of payments crisis just two years ago.
In a damage-control mode, Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa rushed to Saudi Arabia to contain the fallout from Qureshi's remarks. However, according to Pakistani media reports, he failed to secure a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Among other things, Pakistan's tilt towards Turkey, Malaysia and Iran, and also its growing economic and strategic dependence on China might have annoyed the Saudis. (ANI)