Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince
arrives in Pakistan on Sunday, the start of an Asian tour during which he
will seek lucrative contracts and demonstrate he still has allies five months after the Khashoggi affair.
Mohammed bin Salman, widely known as “MBS”, is expected to land in the capital Islamabad and stay in Pakistan until Monday.
His trip comes amid high tensions in the region: India and Saudi Arabia’s
arch-rival Iran — both bordering Pakistan — have accused Islamabad of backing militant groups which have carried out bloody suicide attacks on their soil in recent days.
After Pakistan, MBS will travel to India, where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
He is expected to finish the trip with a visit to China on Thursday and
Friday. Two short stops initially scheduled for Sunday and Monday in Indonesia and Malaysia were postponed on Saturday without explanation.
The Asia trip comes five months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a fierce critic of MBS, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul ignited a diplomatic crisis.
Riyadh initially denied the murder, then gave several conflicting accounts
of Khashoggi’s death, and now claims he was killed in an unauthorised