PM Abbasi, Army chief Bajwa reach Saudi Arabia

PM Abbasi, Army chief Bajwa reach Saudi Arabia

Islamabad (Agencies): Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday arrived in Saudi Arabia on a day-long tour to attend Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) conference.

The delegation led by the prime minister is expected to hold meetings with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other officials during the visit. During the meetings, bilateral relations, regional and international situation would be reviewed.

On Sunday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened the maiden meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition’s defense ministers in Riyadh.

Addressing the defense ministers and other high-ranking officials, the crown prince said that Sunday’s meeting sends “a strong signal that we are going to work together and coordinate together to support each other.”

However, the alliance doesn’t include Iran, Iraq or Syria, while member nation Qatar sent no one to attend the one-day Riyadh gathering amid a diplomatic standoff between Doha and four Arab nations led by the kingdom.

“The biggest danger of this terrorism and extremism is the tarnishing of our beloved religion’s reputation […] We will not allow this to happen,” said the royal who has been the driving force behind this coalition. “Today, we start the pursuit of terrorism and we see its defeat in many facets around, the world especially in Muslim countries. We will continue to fight it until we see its defeat.”

The crown prince also offered his condolences to Egypt, which suffered an attack on Friday by Islamic militants on a mosque in northern Sinai that killed 305 people.

 “This is indeed a painful event and it is a recurrent and strong reminder the dangers of this terrorism,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan’s ex-army chief General (r) Raheel Sharif has said the Saudi-led alliance will act as a platform to assist member countries in their counter terrorism operations through intelligence sharing and capacity building.

Sharif, who is also the commander-in-chief of the military coalition, said: “A number of our member countries are under tremendous pressure while fighting well established terrorist organisations due to capacity shortages of their armed forces and law enforcement agencies”.