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Pakistan recalls diplomats from Saudi Arabia

April 19, 2021 at 10:27 am

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, Pakistan on January 13, 2021 [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]

Pakistan has summoned a number of its diplomats in Saudi Arabia due to “multiple” complaints from the Pakistani community there, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quresh announced on Saturday.

“The diplomatic personnel in Saudi Arabia have been directed to provide all services and facilities to expatriate Pakistanis,” Quresh told reporters while on an official visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia is home to some two million Pakistanis, with annual remittances valuing at $4.5 billion, according to official data. Riyadh has reportedly been unilaterally deporting a large number of Pakistani workers over the past two years.

Though the two countries have previously had strong strategic relations, tensions arose last year when Riyadh turned down Islamabad’s request to convene a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’s Council of Foreign Ministers to pressure India on the Kashmir issue.

READ: Saudi Arabia seeks to overcome differences with other states

Pakistan was later forced to repay a Saudi loan of $1 billion that the kingdom called in after Pakistan insisted it be allowed to lead the OIC’s support for Kashmir, a region largely under Indian occupation and which was annexed by India in 2019.

Saudi Arabia went on to end a loan and oil supply to Pakistan due to the South Asian nation’s criticism that the Saudi-led OIC is not doing enough in support of Kashmir.

The loan was part of a $6.2 billion package announced by Saudi Arabia in November 2018, which included a total of $3 billion in loans and an oil credit facility amounting to $3.2 billion. Those deals were then signed when Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman made a visit to Pakistan in February last year.