Saudi Arabia will always stand by Pakistan, says King Abdullah

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah confers with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Jeddah early Friday. (SPA)

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah confers with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Jeddah early Friday. (SPA)

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah said Saudi Arabia would always stand by Pakistan, its leadership and people.

During an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at his palace on Thursday night, King Abdullah expressed his warm feelings and heartfelt prayers for a strong, prosperous and peaceful Pakistan.

He described Sharif as his brother and said Saudi-Pakistan ties go back to the days of the country’s founder, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. They are rooted in history, he said.

The Saudi leadership and key aides of King Abdullah, including Crown Prince Salman, Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin, National Security Council chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, intelligence chief Prince Khaled bin Bandar, National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah were present at the high-profile meeting.

Sharif has been accorded an unprecedented honor since his arrival in the Kingdom four days ago. Earlier, he met Crown Prince Salman. The meeting reiterated the close ties that exist between the two countries. During the meeting, Crown Prince Salman famously said: “We consider Pakistan our second home.”

Two days ago, Prince Muqrin called on Sharif at his palace in Al-Hamra district. “This was an unprecedented gesture,” said a Pakistani diplomat. “Prince Muqrin’s visit to the prime minister’s palatial home in Jeddah proves the nature of our ties with Saudi Arabia.”

During his meeting with King Abdullah, Sharif expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to him during his visit. He highlighted the special nature of brotherly ties between the two counties and emphasized that his government attached great importance to further strengthening these ties.

The two leaders discussed a range of issues, including the challenges being faced by the Muslim Ummah, and called for unity and solidarity in these critical times.

Sharif’s confidant Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar accompanied him.

Ever since Sharif took over as Pakistan’s prime minister after a landslide victory in elections last year, Saudi Arabia has stood by him and has donated generously to help him and his nation tide over economic crises. The two leaders share a personal bonding. It was King Abdullah who came to Sharif’s help after Pervez Musharraf deposed him in a military coup in 1999.

From Saudi Arabia’s point of view, a stable Pakistan is the best ally in the Muslim world riven by troubles. “Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Muslim Ummah and economic and regional powerhouse and Pakistan is the Muslim world’s only nuclear power, and together they make a great combination to thwart the evil designs of the enemies of Islam,” said the diplomat.

After his meeting with the king, Sharif headed straight to Madinah and said his night prayers in the Prophet’s Mosque. He will be spending the last two days of Ramadan in Madinah and will say his Eid prayers in the holy mosque before returning to Jeddah and Pakistan.

For Sharif, spending the last 10 days of Ramadan in the holy land has been an annual ritual. For the Pakistani community in the Kingdom, the warm reception accorded to their prime minister by the top Saudi leadership is a source of strength and joy.

“It is a great feeling to know that our leader has so much respect in Saudi Arabia,” said Anwar Butt, an insurance executive. “It enhances our prestige and raises our profile in Saudi Arabia. It means a lot.”

 
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