Saudi vows to ‘de-escalate’ India-Pakistan tensions

Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi conferring the country’s highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Islamabad on Monday.AFPHANDOUT  

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister vowed to “de-escalate” rising tensions between Pakistan and India as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prepares to travel to New Delhi.

Adel al-Jubeir spoke at a press conference in Islamabad as Pakistan recalled its envoy from New Delhi for “consultations” after last week’s terror attack in Pulwama. “Our objective is to try to de-escalate tensions between the two countries, neighbouring countries, and to see if there is a path forward to resolving those differences peacefully,” said Mr. Jubeir. Following the pledge, the Crown Prince — known as MBS — held a series of meetings on Monday with the Pakistani leadership.

After his arrival late on Sunday, MBS signed $20 billion in investment deals with cash-strapped Islamabad and vowed to free thousands of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi custody. Islamabad is facing a serious balance of payments crisis and hopes the huge deals signed over the two-day visit — seven separate agreements and memorandums of understanding — will boost its struggling economy. Pakistan laid on a lavish welcome for the Prince, including a 21-gun salute, fighter jet escort and honour guard. He also received the country’s highest civilian award Monday, the Nishan-e-Pakistan (Order of Pakistan).

Pakistan has also been accused by its western neighbour Iran of harbouring militants who carried out an attack that killed 27 Revolutionary Guards last week. The Guards’ commander has also vowed to make Pakistan pay. Mr. Jubeir also noted that Riyadh continues to participate in a months-long push by Washington for peace talks in Afghanistan, saying that if the war-torn country can be stabilised “it will be to benefit... the region as a whole”.