Saudi Crown Prince Ordering Release of 2,100 Pakistani Prisoners ‘Bigger Takeaway Than $21B Investment’

MBS also reiterated his faith in the country’s leadership. “There is great leadership here to put Pakistan in the right position. We can see it happening.”

PKONWEB Report (Islamabad) — Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Monday orderering the release of more than 2,100 prisoners in the kingdom, with their ongoing plight proving a sensitive issue in Pakistan, is turning out qualitatively to be as big a gesture as the $21 billion investment.

“Actually it’s a bigger takeaway…unexpected and a highly gracious gesture, given that nearly 3000 Pakistanis are in jail for some time now,” several overseas Pakistanis living in the kingdom said.

The Pakistani premier had his own take on it: “I woke up this morning and when I looked at my mobile phone, I realized ─ after your statement last night saying that you would be Pakistan’s ambassador in Saudi Arabia ─ that if you stood in elections here, you would get more votes than me,” the prime minister joked, addressing the crown prince who was standing at a podium to his right. “You are extremely popular,” he added.

The Pakistani premier made the request to bin Salman upon his arrival in Islamabad on Sunday, which is part of a larger international tour of Saudi Arabia’s future leader.

In a press conference, Khan called on MBS to treat the 2.5 million Pakistanis working in the Kingdom “as his own”, to which the crown prince said he would be the “ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia”.

Pakistani workers travel to the Middle East regularly for employment in construction or domestic help, but thousands have been jailed without the financial means to seek legal help. According to an estimate, more than 5 billion dollars are remitted every year on the average by Pakistanis who work and live in the kingdom and has been the largest source for decades.

Prince Mohammad said: “We cannot say no to Pakistan … whatever we can do, we will deliver that.”

The prince announced upon his arrival Sunday that Saudi Arabia would invest $21 billion in Pakistan, saying the series of expenditures would “certainly grow each month and every year.”

“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, adding: “We have been a brotherly country, a friendly country to Pakistan. We’ve walked together in tough and good times, and we [will] continue.”

MBS also reiterated his faith in the country’s leadership. “There is great leadership here to put Pakistan in the right position. We can see it happening.”

The planned investments include building an oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Pakistan’s southern port city of Gwadar, the possible acquisition of two liquefied natural gas-powered power plants by Saudi companies and up to $4 billion in alternative energy and mining deals, chief of Pakistan’s Board of Investment told media.

The Crown Prince was given a royal welcome, with his delegation accompanied by Pakistani JF-17 fighter jets as his plane entered Pakistani airspace. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan’s army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, greeted MBS on the red carpet of a military airport in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, before Khan personally drove the crown prince to the capital Islamabad.

Bin Salman – who will be visiting India and China later this week – had also planned to visit Indonesia and Malaysia during the tour, but those trips have been postponed, according to officials.

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